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Updated: 29 March 2005

Daily Service Bulletin Chebucto News Archive

Second Chebucto planning session held

[Photo: Chebucto Board in planning session.]  Chebucto Board members met March 10, 2005 for the second planning session relating to future directions for the Chebucto Community Net. This second session was an effort to clarify general principles and goals for the non-profit organization. A member survey posted earlier this month (next story) is also part of this planning process. The Chebucto Board has the goal of presenting its findings to the Chebucto membership in time for the Chebucto Community Net Annual General Meeting in April.

Chebucto Member Survey results online

The February 2005 Chebucto Community Net User Survey results are now available online:

February 2005 User Survey Results

Chebucto services maintenance window

The Chebucto Technical Committee wishes to advise Chebucto users of upcoming regularly scheduled planned maintenance downtimes. Chebucto Community Net services may be unavailable between 3:30 AM and 4:30 AM Tuesdays to allow for system upgrades. Some or all Chebucto services may go down with minimum or no warning during this maintenance window as systems are shut down and restarted.

Alan Turner New Board Member

Long-time Chebucto member Alan Turner has joined the Board of Directors of the Chebucto Community Net. He was appointed by the present Chebucto Board to complete the term of resigned director Reg Hody, elected at the April 2004 Annual General Meeting. Alan Turner brings years of experience serving on various local community organizations to Chebucto's 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. At each year's Annual General Meeting, usually held in April, six Board members come up for election for a two year term.

Chebucto Community Net RSS how-to guide

Chebucto Community Net has posted a guide on how to use our RSS news feed here:

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
Recently updated with security fixes to version 1.0.2.

Email client: Mozilla Thunderbird free from
Recently updated with security fixes to version 1.0.2.

Anti-Spyware Software:

Firewall: Zone Alarm free and paid versions from

FTP Software: FileZilla free from

RSS Newsfeed Reader: RSSOwl free from RSSOwl.Org

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.

Saskatchewan community net closing

It is with great sadness that we report the Great Plains Free Net (GPFN), the community net for Regina and southern Saskatchewan, is closing down. GPFN dropped dialup access two years ago as a result of changes to community access in that province and saw membership numbers decline. At this year's GPFN AGM only five members, all GPFN Board members, turned out.

GPFN, like Chebucto Community Net, was founded in 1994 and uses the same CSuite software Chebucto does. While similar in available services to Chebucto, GPFN did not seem to grow as large or popular. Plans are to turn off GPFN services over the next few months.

Some people have asked if community net closings around the country mean that Chebucto Community Net is going to close. Chebucto Community Net is in good shape financially and equipment-wise and is not in danger of closing down any time soon.

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 2,244,000 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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