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Updated: 9 December 2003

Message Of The Day Chebucto News Archive

More digital lines added to Plus

[Photo: What 92 digital phone lines look like.]  Due to an increase in demand for the Chebucto Plus dialup service, on December 5th another 23 digital phone lines were added for a total of 92 lines available for Plus users to dial in on. Each of the blue cards in the photo represents 25 digital channels or phone lines; one channel per card is used for a control channel.

With the addition of the extra digital lines, all available modems on the Ascend 6096 purchased in July 2002 are now in use. Four of the 96 modems on the Ascend are not working. For Chebucto to add more lines to the Chebucto Plus 56 K service will require the purchase of another multiple digital modem unit like the Ascend.

Chebucto Plus signups are up 20% over the same period last year.

New main server nearly ready!

[Photo: Chebucto's new main server.]  Preparations for the introduction of the long-awaited replacement to Chebucto's main server 'halifax' continue. Two large server-grade hard drives arrived today and will soon be living on the new server in a mirrored RAID array, where the contents of one hard drive will be constantly updated or mirrored on the other. This will be a fail-safe should one of the hard drives fail in the future. The machine could then function seamlessly on the single drive until a replacement could be procured.

The new server, a powerful dual processor system, is set to replace the current main Chebucto server before the end of December. The next step in the process is to install the new hard drives and then begin the copying over of the immense amount of data on the present server to them.

When installed, the new server will handle Chebucto mail and the majority of Chebucto's website hosting, plus be a new home for the Chebucto text-based service. It is anticipated that the new server will be significantly faster than the current server.

The current 'halifax' server was installed in September 1997 to replace Chebucto's original server which was set up in 1994. Over the years a lot of memory and disk capacity has been added to it as demands upon it have grown but in the past year it has been starting to show its limitations as incoming email has more than tripled and mail filtering has become standard to deal with the deluge of rubbish mail that has become commonplace. User expectations of service have also risen in this time and nothing short of perfection is considered acceptable these days.

New Chebucto Search engine!

A replacement search engine for the Chebucto Community Net website is now in use. The Search link at the top of all in-house Chebucto pages (including this one) now uses a new search engine to index and search the more than 14,000 pages on the Chebucto web site. Not only is this search engine much faster than the previous one, but it can also search by phrase rather than just finding the individual words in the search terms. This means that a search for "John Smith" (in quotes) will find pages containing "John Smith" first, as opposed to just finding pages with "John" or "Smith" in them.

The new search engine uses the Open Source Swish-e system, and was brought to Chebucto's attention by a new Technical Committee volunteer.

Alert: New trojans and worms hit unsuspecting users!

Two Chebucto users have been caught sending spam messages using their home computers on their Chebucto connection, according to the Chebucto Policy Committee. In both cases the users had been infected by a trojan horse program and were sending out the admail without their knowledge. A trojan horse program is, like the myth, something disguised as an innocent program but which does nasty things too. In this case, every time the victim connected to the Internet, their computer would download spam ads and instructions and then begin sending out hundreds of spam ads all over the Internet. The users were each taken offline until they could get their computers disinfected. They are both back online now.

A series of new trojans, worms and cons are targetting users of online banking services, online auction services, online payment services and online file sharing services. Many of these exploits or attacks are using what is called "social engineering" (making up a plausible story to trick people) to "phish" (or collect) sensitive user information such as credit card numbers or other account information. These new scams at first blush appear to be legitimate requests from your bank or other service you use to update your information, usually because of some sort of "security update". They direct you to a website which looks genuine where you are supposed to type in your information. The website is false and the information is used to rob you. File sharing services are being targetted by a new worm which makes up tantalizing fake file names which are in fact the new worm infecting the shared folder of the user. Windows users are being targetted by fake email "Windows Updates". Microsoft never releases updates by email.

As always we strongly advise all of our users to have good anti-virus software and to keep the virus definitions updated. We also strongly recommend all 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.

Cool new Chebucto hats available!

[Photo: New Chebucto hat - click to see larger photo]   We have available these 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 now archived here at Chebucto. 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 1,726,000 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 25,000 results, representing more than 49 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. Mozilla Thunderbird, available free for Windows, Macintosh and Linux from Mozilla.Org is a popular alternative.



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