Updated: 10 February
Chebucto guests on CBC Radio
Chebucto Community Net Office Manager Andrew Wright and Dalhousie
University UCIS Executive Director John Sherwood (both shown here on a
studio monitor) were guests on CBC Radio One's Maritime Noon February 9,
2005 taking phone calls from listeners on the subject of Internet security
and what people can do to protect themselves.
The segment, simulcast on TV on the
Country Canada satellite
channel, drew questions ranging from past user computer problems to
the merits of different computer Operating Systems.
The Chebucto Community Net welcomes media inquiries on topics relating to
Internet access, Internet security and any related issues. We are here to
help. Our contact information is
Chebucto planning session held
Chebucto Board members met February 5, 2005 for the first of several
planning sessions relating to future directions for the Chebucto Community
Net. This first all day session was an effort to work out 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. Member feedback will likely be solicited for one or more further
surveys and the Chebucto Board will be meeting again for more planning
sessions with a goal of presenting its findings to the Chebucto membership
in time for the Chebucto Community Net Annual General Meeting in April.
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.
Chebucto membership drops in 2004
The Chebucto Office reports that the number of users and members of the
Chebucto Community Net dropped in 2004. After experiencing some small
growth in 2003, going from 1,870 to 1,883 accounts, in 2004 the number of
user accounts fell to 1,749. The fall in numbers was almost entirely in
text-only account categories which have been declining steadily since
Also down are new account signups, falling from 387 accounts in 2004 to
240 in 2004. Account renewals rose slightly from 1,496 accounts in 2003 to
1,509 accounts in 2004.
Community nets across Canada and the United States have been having a hard
time of it in recent years. Typically community nets lack the financial
resources necessary for a successful advertising campaign to reach new
users, or to hire staff or purchase new equipment. Part of the problem
also seems to be a commonly held misperception that a community net is
nothing more than "cheap internet", inferior in quality to commercially
On the positive side, more than 80% of Chebucto members and users renewed
their accounts in 2004, the Chebucto
Plus graphical access service grew slightly and Chebucto's Membership
Reward Plan introduced in 2001 is now bringing in about a quarter of
all new members.
Chebucto Chair invites volunteers for Board
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
firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief write-up about themselves.
Chebucto Community Net first in Canada
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
and specific Chebucto RSS information can be found in the Recommended
Software story below.
have RSS news feed
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
Web browser: Mozilla Firefox free from Mozilla.org
Email client: Mozilla Thunderbird free from Mozilla.org
free and paid versions from Lavasoft.de
Spybot: Search & Destroy free from Safer-networking.org
Firewall: Zone Alarm free and paid versions from Zonelabs.com
FTP Software: FileZilla free from FileZilla.SourceForge.net
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 - - 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.
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.
Microsoft releases several new Critical Updates
Microsoft released a number of Critical Updates to the Windows Operating
System, Microsoft Office and their .NET framework Tuesday February 8,
2005. We strongly recommend our users install the available updates,
either through the automatic Windows Update system or manually by going to
the Windows Update site.
Chebucto adds new anti-phishing
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
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
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!
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, the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, has been processing
their radio telescope data with home users' computers for years now. Using
screensaver which runs whenever the user computer is not in use, SETI
has had more than 2,215,000 years of high quality computer processor time
donated to it.
Of all the computer domains ending in the letters NS.CA, denoting Nova
Scotia, chebucto.ns.ca 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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