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Updated: 1 February 2005

Daily Service Bulletin Chebucto News Archive

Chebucto Member Survey online

The Chebucto Board of Directors is interested in getting feedback from the members of the Chebucto Community Net and has posted a survey on the Chebucto website. Chebucto members are invited to take a few minutes and answer a few questions.

Three blizzards in one week

Three blizzards: Monday January 17, Thursday January 20 and Monday January 24 shut down most of Halifax including the Chebucto Community Net Office and Dalhousie University, dropped record amounts of snow and had winds gusting as high as 80 km/hour. A power failure lasting an hour and a half during Thursday's blizzard shut down Chebucto services after backup power supplies were drained. The Chebucto Technical Committee is planning to upgrade Chebucto's battery power reserves to extend the runtime of Chebucto services during power outages.

The Chebucto Webcam appears to be another casualty of the most recent storm, showing only distorted images at this time of this writing. It is hoped that the video feed cable that has been shaken loose might be shaken back into place. It is not likely that conditions for working on the webcam will be favorable for several months.

Chebucto Chair invites volunteers for Board

A letter from Chebucto Community Net Chair Marilyn MacDonald was sent to all members inviting them to consider volunteering with Chebucto's Board of Directors. There are currently two vacancies on the Board.

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.

Chebucto Community Net first in Canada
to have RSS news feed

The Chebucto Community Net has become the first community net in Canada to have its own RSS news feed. Users with an RSS capable newsreader or web browser such as Mozilla Firefox can now subscribe to this feed and get all the latest Chebucto news as a live bookmark or read the feed in any number of other ways. General information on RSS and how to use it can be found here and specific Chebucto RSS information can be found in the Recommended Software story below.

By putting up an RSS news feed, Chebucto Community Net is now able to alert our users and supporters in a fast and timely manner not only to important Chebucto news but also important general news such as new critical updates to widely used software or new security or scam alerts. We hope that people will take advantage of this new service to keep themselves informed fast and easy.

Updated - Recommended software list

With the recent interest in Internet security and the rise in various exploits meant to take over user machines, the Chebucto Office has compiled this list of recommended software for user computers running Microsoft Windows.

Web browser: Mozilla Firefox free from

Email client: Mozilla Thunderbird free from

Anti-Spyware Software:

Firewall: Zone Alarm free and paid versions from

FTP Software: FileZilla free from

RSS Newsfeed Reader: RSSOwl free from

We've added a free Open Source RSS news reader to our list of recommended software. RSS news feeds can be accessed a number of different ways and you should pick a way that suits your own usage. Mozilla Firefox's Live Bookmarks are one very easy way to make use of an RSS newsfeed - just click on the orange speaker icon that appears in the lower right corner of the Firefox browser window on any RSS newsfeed supporting page to subscribe to a Live Bookmark for that website. The RSSOwl newsreader offers even more RSS newsfeed reading options - just click on the orange RSS graphic - Chebucto Community Net RSS News Feed - you'll see on the bottom of most of our Chebucto Community Net web pages (including this one) and then copy the web address from your browser address bar into the RSS newsreader address bar and hit Enter. In RSSOwl you can then subscribe to this feed by dragging and dropping the newsfeed icon to your RSSOwl Favorites folder.

The Chebucto Office does not recommend using the Internet Explorer web browser for any use except for accessing Microsoft's own Windows Update page. Internet Explorer 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.

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.

The recommendations for anti-spyware software and firewall software are in response to an increasing number of user machines that have been compromised to the point of unusability by advertiser-supported software and associated spyware and malware. Anti-spyware software can be updated with new definitions, the same way as anti-virus software is and can scan and fix problems as anti-virus software can. Note that it is not a substitute for anti-virus software and our recommendation to our users to have a good anti-virus program and keep it updated has never changed.

Firewall software is also effective in helping users control their computer not only as protection against outside network attacks but to provide control over what programs on the user computer are allowed to access the internet.

Keeping Microsoft Windows up to date is also very important. Windows XP users should have Service Pack 2 installed. All Microsoft Windows users should make a point of using Internet Explorer to visit the Microsoft Windows Update site at least once a month and download all critical updates.

Chebucto adds new anti-phishing filter

A new anti-phishing filter is the latest addition to Chebucto's already formidable array of email security tools. Phishing is the term used to describe a type of email fraud where an email will pretend to be from a bank or eBay, etc. and tries to trick users into sending along confidential personal account information to the fraud artist. The emails will use tricks in web code to make the user think they are sending their information to the real bank or business while they are in fact sending it to the crooks. The anti-phishing filter can detect these web code tricks and will substitute a warning and web code that won't work as the crooks intended.

Email fraud is a growth industry and has become very sophisticated in a short period of time. Chebucto has had effective and user configurable spam filtering and virus filtering for some time now and the addition of the anti-phishing filters provides yet another good reason to use Chebucto email services. Currently more than 94% of incoming email to Chebucto is spam, scam or virus mail and is successfully filtered out from real mail.

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.

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 Users still tops in *.NS.CA SETI processing

[Photo: New SETI@Home interface] 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 2,206,000 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 36,000 results, representing more than 60 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.



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