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Updated: 17 October 2004

Daily Service Bulletin Chebucto News Archive

Chebucto and HRCA at Word on the Street

[Photo: N.S. MLA Danny Graham and Chebucto Chair Marilyn MacDonald]
Nova Scotia MLA Danny Graham and Chebucto Chair Marilyn MacDonald cut Chebucto Community Net's tenth birthday cake at this year's Word on the Street literacy festival at Pier 20. More on Chebucto at WOTS 2004.

Chebucto Community Net and the Halifax Regional Community Access Program Association shared a large tent and co-sponsored the Solve 6 contest. Volunteers from both organizations did an excellent job with a complex tent setup and meeting and greeting the public.

Chebucto Board of Directors seeks new Director

With the resignation of Director Reg Hody last month, there is a vacancy on the Chebucto Community Net Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors is the group of 12 volunteers charged with running the Chebucto Community Net. Any person with a paid up membership in the Chebucto Community Net is eligible to become a Director, whether the membership is Assisted, Full, Supporting, Sustaining or any of the Family membership categories. Please consider volunteering. Technical knowledge helpful but not essential. Interested parties can send an email to with a brief write-up about themselves.

Webcam views of Queen Mary 2 hit 250,000 a day

[Photo: Queen Mary 2 entering Halifax Harbour for the first time.]
An astonishing 250,000 hits a day were recorded on the Chebucto Webcam during the historic first visit of the Cunard liner Queen Mary 2 to Halifax Harbour. This photo shows the luxury liner dwarfing George's Island and making Halifax Harbour look out of scale as it enters Halifax Harbour for the first time. The luxury liner docked at Pier 21 for two days, then returned again for another visit a couple of weeks later. There are more photos of the Queen Mary 2 in the Chebucto Photo Gallery here

Gremlins hit Chebucto servers

[Photo: Motherboard components popped like popcorn.] A family of gremlins seems to have taken up residence in the Chebucto machine room over the last several weeks. It started with a series of mysterious crashes by a secondary web server, then power outages, then a still unexplained crash of the main Chebucto server. Each incident having a different cause and illustrating the variety of challenges facing Chebucto.

The photo here showing capacitors on a web server motherboard popped like popcorn tells the incredible story of industrial espionage in the Far East gone wrong. It seems that the secret formula for the electrolyte solution found in these capacitors was stolen from a Japanese company but the thief did not get the entire formula. Not knowing this, the formula was sold to a number of manufacturers in Taiwan who make the components for motherboards. The faulty electrolyte formula makes capacitors generate hydrogen gas and explode. Chebucto turned out to have two servers with affected boards, since replaced with new motherboards. For those interested, here is the complete story about industrial espionage and popped capacitors.

Power disruptions lasting more than ten minutes will bring down Chebucto services. With the addition of a new cluster of servers by the Dalhousie Math Dept. to the common machine room, a new air conditioner is needed to take care of the large amount of heat. While a new much more powerful air conditioner is on its way, the heat in the machine room is running close to the maximum tolerance and there is a temperature sensor that shuts down all power to the whole machine room which has been tripped over the last two weeks. When the heat alarm sounds, it is necessary for a person to open the machine room doors and let the hot air out before the power is shut down. Efforts have been made to run systems cooler while waiting for the new air conditioner.

The investigation continues into the cause of a main server crash last week. There was no reason found for the crash and the server has been running without problem since it was restarted.

Internet security news - new updates available!

Internet security continues to present an ongoing problem for computer users and will continue to do so for the forseeable future. Users must protect themselves and their computers from being taken over and used for illegal purposes.

Windows XP users should download and install Service Pack 2, a rewriting of the Microsoft Operating System which includes security fixes and program updates as well as an improved built-in firewall to help protect against network attacks on the computer. This important update is free to download from Microsoft Windows Update and is recommended for our users. Microsoft will mail out a Windows XP Service Pack 2 CD to users for free upon request.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser, used by the majority of people on the Internet and bundled with the Microsoft Windows Operating System has been the subject of a number of reports recently pointing out vulnerabilities and security issues. The popular web browser has been targetted by virus writers in particular seeking to break into home computers to use them for criminal purposes such as sending out spam, sending out viruses to break into other computers and being used to disrupt services on other computer systems.

In light of this continuing and worsening problem, we recommend to our users not to use the Internet Explorer web browser (except for accessing Microsoft's own Windows Update site). We recommend users download and use the free Open Source Mozilla Firefox web browser, available for download at no cost at Mozilla Firefox has been updated this week to a new and improved version. Other browsers are available for users to use as well. A list of web browsers available for download can be found here. Please note that many of these listed browsers are still using Internet Explorer as their base.

While Microsoft has put up many Internet Explorer related patches on their Windows Update site and we strongly recommend users download these patches, there are almost daily accounts of other, still unpatched, security issues. Still, many users of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Internet Explorer do not keep up to date with patches, leaving themselves particularly vulnerable to having their computers exploited. Chebucto Community Net has the policy of immediately suspending Internet access for computers which have been detected as being infected.

New secure online renewals

The Chebucto Community Net is pleased to announce that we can now offer secure online credit card payments for Chebucto membership renewals and service fees. The new service, available from our home page or directly here, uses Internet standard 256 bit high-grade encryption to transmit credit card information securely to Chebucto's server in Halifax. Once there the information is stored using 1024 bit encryption. Transactions are processed next business day.

There is currently no known way to break 256 bit encryption except to try all possible 256 bit keys. There are 1.1 x 10 77 (a number with 77 zeroes after the one) such keys and estimates on how long to try them all range into several hundred trillion years. The 1024 bit encryption used to store the information on Chebucto's server has 1.7 x 10 313 possible keys and is even more secure. The service is temporarily using a secure certificate issued by the Chebucto Community Net which users must accept before they can access the site. This temporary certificate offers the same 256 bit encryption as a regular secure certificate.

New 1-800 Access for Plus!

Chebucto Plus users needing dialup access while travelling across North America can now connect using a toll-free 1-800 Access number. Time on the 1-800 Access line is booked in advance in one or two hour increments, $6.00 per hour or $10 for two hours. 1-800 Access details here

The 1-800 Access service has been a popular request for some time now. For the present, 1-800 Access is good only from anywhere in North America but if demand is sufficiently high, it could conceivably be expanded in the future.

Cool Chebucto hats available!

[Photo: Cool 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 $5 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 2,094,000 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 33,000 results, representing more than 57 years of CPU time that would otherwise have been wasted.

In project news, re-observation of 226 points in the sky containing many of the best candidates generated from the first two years of SETI@home data has resulted in no positive matches. Researchers are currently working to identify a new set of candidates for re-observation using the remaining data while more comprehensive sky surveys using newer hardware are carried out. The SETI software is in the process of being upgraded and is now integrated with BOINC, a distributed computing platform which will allow home users to split their computing power among different projects at the same time.

Outlook user email advisory

After many reports about vulnerabilities for 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 is a popular alternative.



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