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Updated: 2 February 2006

Daily Service Bulletin Chebucto News Archive

Chebucto loses one of our own

[Photo: Norman De Forest] It is with great sadness that we announce the passing away of Norman De Forest. Among his many other hats, he was head of Chebucto's Userhelp volunteer support mailing list, a spam fighter extraordinaire, author of much of Chebucto's documentation, a valued member of the Chebucto Technical Committee and a champion for equal access to all internet resources for the disabled.

Norman has been with Chebucto since February 1995 and it remained a focus for his life right to the very end. In poor health and living in extreme poverty, Norman's mind was rarely fettered by his circumstances and he quite literally has helped thousands of people, both through Chebucto and the internet and in real life. Like most truly generous people, he kept his charity to himself and it is likely nobody alive knows the true extent of his caring.

I will be writing a proper obituary for Norman for the Beacon and will post the link to this News page. We will all miss Norman's presence and wisdom very, very much.

New Webmail upgrade, new features!

[Graphic: New Webmail] Chebucto Webmail has been upgraded. It's faster, the user interface has been updated (and is fully customizable) and there are new features in place with more to come.

In addition to the existing Chebucto Webmail features like strong internet security, online planning tools including calendar, tasks list, notepad and address book has been added a secure File Manager. Users can now securely upload and download files to and from their Chebucto disk and web space over a safe encrypted internet connection.

Since the new Webmail was brought online December 21, 2005, there have been reports of users with older browsers being unable to use it. Netscape 3 is unable to use encryption since its own built in security certificates have expired. Netscape 4 is unable to use the new Webmail because of insufficient support of newer web standards but can still make secure connections. Earlier versions (3,4,5) of Internet Explorer were unavailable for testing but may also have problems with the new Webmail.

Users with very old browsers can access the old unencrypted Webmail using the link below the Webmail form on the Chebucto Home page. Netscape 4 users should be automatically redirected to the old Webmail when they try to log into the new Webmail. Users with other web browsers able to access the secure Webmail page but unable to use the new Webmail please let us know your browser (Internet Explorer, Netscape, etc.), Operating System (Windows 98, Windows 95, Mac OS 9, etc.) and browser version number (found in the browser under Help, About) by sending a report to

Windows XP, 2000, Server 2003 critical patch out!

Microsoft has released a patch for a critical flaw affecting Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 users. Without this patch, any user of Internet Explorer could get automatically infected by going to a bad web page. The patch is available directly here:
or through Microsoft Windows Update.

Any downloaded .wmf file could be infected and be run by the user deliberately or by being tricked into it. Some programs such as Google Desktop would run the .wmf file while indexing local disk drive content.

Due to the danger to unpatched Windows users, Chebucto has blocked .wmf files on the Chebucto Plus service. Text service users can still download .wmf files to their home computers but this would have to be deliberately done, there is no possible way to be infected automatically on the text service.

Note: For up to the minute updates on important internet security news such as this, please check our RSS News Feed

Plus up, numbers down at year-end

[Graphic: chart of Chebucto Plus accounts] The Chebucto Office reports that at year-end 2005, the number of Chebucto Plus memberships rose to 820, the highest number ever. A series of ad campaigns in local print media helped bring in new members.

Organizational accounts were a mixed bag. Non-Profit Basic accounts rose from 114 to 128 but the other account categories dropped slightly in numbers; Non-Profit Premium accounts went from 33 to 30 in 2005 and Business accounts dropped by one account.

[Graphic: Chebucto Plus and text accounts compared]
The total number of Chebucto accounts fell for the second year in a row from 1749 to 1630. As the chart above shows, this drop in numbers comes from the closing of text based accounts. In December 2005 the crossover occured and there are now more Chebucto Plus memberships than there are text memberships.

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.

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
Upgraded to version

Email client: Mozilla Thunderbird free from
Upgraded to version 1.5.

Anti-Spyware Software:

Firewall: Zone Alarm free and paid versions from

Free anti-virus programs for home users (Note that both of these programs also have paid versions which offer additional features):

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. The three anti-spyware programs we recommend can all be used on the same computer without problem.

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.

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.



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