Archive for February, 2007

Notes on the February 2007 Meeting

21 February 2007

We were to have a presentation by Peter Coburn on Struc Plus and the new precast concrete modules, but unfortunately he was unable to make it to the meeting tonight. So we will attempt to reschedule the presentation, probably to the April meeting.

Two main presenters this evening: Zoltan Toth and Peter Godfrey

Zoltan Toth
It’s kind of nice that we feel that we can bring our little domestic issues along to Vicaug meetings! One of Zoltan’s children had been given an old PC to play games and such on, but it came with no install discs or instructions. The old PC was in need of a serious tune-up, of the kind that Zoltan is so good at. One of the tasks facing Zoltan was a complete re-format and reinstallation of its Windows XP operating system.

The computer contained a couple of special bits of hardware, like a TV tuner card. Of course, there was no obvious identification on it and no way to know what the model number or even the manufacturer is. Still, the card was running well, so obviously the required drivers were installed and configured correctly. The problem was, of course, that once the hard disk was reformatted, these drivers would disappear so the card would cease to function.

What we need then, is a way to copy the drivers that are loaded on a computer to a safe place, so they can be reloaded after a format.Surely, there must be a way to do this, but Windows XP doesn’t provide it. So Zoltan jumped onto the Google search web site and looked around for an answer.

Apparently, there are a number of programs claiming to do this. Naturally, Zoltan was looking for free ones – why pay if you can do it for free? He found five programs and tried them all. Three of them failed to find all of the third party drivers. Zoltan wasn’t concerned about the Microsoft ones, since they are on the Windows install disc anyway. One of them (Driver Max) didn’t find the TV tuner, so was not suitable for this exercise. However, it may well work for you.

This left Zoltan with two programs: Driver Magician Lite (<http://www.drivermagician.com/Lite.htm&gt;) and
WinDriversBackup (<http://www.download-by.net/system-utilities/other/9817,windriversbackup-personal-edition,dl.html&gt;)

These programs both found all 3rd party drivers and copied the files along with a .inf file suitable for installation. Just browse to the .inf file in the “Add Hardware” wizard and it all goes in. Each driver is written to its own folder. This is a great way to collect all your drivers into one place for a future reinstall.

Our recommendation is that you download at least both programs (maybe all five) and check that you have a full set of drivers backed up before you reformat.

After giving us the rundown on driver backup, Zoltan showed us a useful free program called VM Ware. You’d never guess it from the name, but VM Ware is a program designed to run multiple “Virtual Machines” on one computer. This means that you can even run multiple operating systems on the one computer and control what access each virtual machine has to the computer’s resources.

Zoltan uses it at work to load multiple versions of different operating systems on the one computer. If a customer calls up and says he has a problem with the software running on, say, Windows ME, service pack 2, then Zoltan can quickly call up that virtual machine and see how it goes. Thus, one computer can take the place of twenty! Much neater.

Another really good application for VM Ware is as a “sandbox.” This is in effecf a computer which is isolated from the rest of your system. It can be a real, physical computer or it can be a virtual machine. With VM Ware, you can quickly call up a virtual computer within your main system, use it to test some odd software and then blow the machine away when you’ve finished.

Finally, a huge advantage of VM Ware is the price – it’s free! There are paid versions with more power and features, but the free one is all you need to do the above jobs.

Peter Godfrey
I won’t take up a lot of room in the blog here, mainly because, since I was the one doing the talking, I wasn’t the one taking notes! Anyway, my presentation tonight covered the continuation of the session presented last December.

In the December session, we looked at standard AutoCAD (non-dynamic) blocks and their capabilities, uses and quirks. After that, we saw how you made a standard block into a simple dynamic one. So, tonight’s presentation built on that knowledge and we looked at more sophisticated techniques of creating dynamic blocks.

There are plenty of references to the creation of dynamic blocks – both online and in the AutoCAD help system, so I won’t repeat the details here. If you were at the meeting and missed something, do feel free to ask me at the next meeting, between sessions. We went through the techniques of making dynamic blocks using each of the parameters and actions available for dynamic blocks, complete with examples of each. These included the stretch, scale, rotate, flip, alignment, visibility and lookup parameters.

There was a fair bit of interest shown in the brief glimpse of the Bit Torrent network shown before the December meeting, so we thought it would be beneficial to have a more thorough look at it. Bit Torrent is a network of computers connected together by means of the file sharing protocol known as Bit Torrent. There is a huge amount of software and also entertainment, such as movies, music and TV shows, out there. To access this you need a Bit Torrent client program which manages the connection to and from the other computers in the network. There are several free ones around: the one I use is called Azureus. You can get this from http://azureus.sourceforge.net

The client program needs to know where to find the other computers in the network and to know which ones are carrying your chosen download. This information is contained in a “torrent file.” That is, you need a torrent file in order to find your download. Torrent files can be found on web sites that you can find in Google. Some of these include (in no particular order)
The Pirate Bay http://thepiratebay.org
Torrent Spy http://torrentspy.com
Torrent Reactor http://www.torrentreactor.net
Torrent Scan http://torrentscan.com

We had a look at what was available by searching, using the keyword “AutoCAD.” It can be scary! Several pages of various flavours of AutoCAD were listed as available for download. I’ll make no comment on the legality or even the morality of this, just to say that, yes, it’s available.

As always, more information is available by Googling the words “bit torrent” and “Azureus.”

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Minutes of the February 2007 General Meeting

13 February 2007

(Victoria Associations Incorporation Act 1981(as at 01 July 1998) Registered No. A 13467)

http://www.dbm.com.au/vicaug

Postal Address: PO Box 466, ELSTERNWICK VIC 3185

MINUTES OF THE FEBRUARY 2007 GENERAL MEETING

HELD AT:

RMIT BUILDING 94, 5TH. FLOOR
23-27 CARDIGAN STREET, CARLTON

ON:

MONDAY, 5TH. FEBRUARY 2007

Attendance:
As per Attendance Book.

Apologies:
Apologies were received.

Opening:
The President, Mark Miller, welcomed everyone attending, requested them to ensure that they had registered on the Attendance sheet, and opened the December 2006 General Meeting at 7.00 pm.

He then suspended the meeting for 30 Minutes for a “Get-together” and refreshment.

He resumed the meeting at 7.30 pm

Minutes of Previous Meeting (December 2006):
The Minutes of the previous General Meeting held on the 4th. December 2006 as circulated in “Vicaug News” – (weblog – aka “blog”) and as emailed to members were received, adopted and approved. There was no business from the Minutes of the previous Meeting.

The President’s Opening Address (the Prez Sez):
The President in his opening address, welcomed all in attendance to this our first meeting for 2007.

He advised that:
– Peter Coburn was unable to attend to give his “Struct-Plus” presentation but will present it at the next meeting (April 2007);
– we have several excellent presentations this evening in which:
—- Peter Godfrey will:
——- continue his series on and to further demonstrate the “Dynamic Blocks” feature in “AutoCAD 2008”; and
——- in conjunction with Zoltan Toth, will demonstrate the “Bit Torrent” web-based facility.
— Zoltan Toth will demonstrate:
——- the uses and features of “virtual machines” in which a number of real computers are emulated; and
——- driver recovery and re-installation of them after re-installation of OS (in this case, XP)

Keeping up to date with VICAUG news and any other matters:
The President advised that members should regularly “log on” to the VICAUG Weblog (“blog”) site at https://vicaug.wordpress.com and VICAUG’s web page at http://www.dbm.com.au/vicaug – both of which are (to be) regularly updated – to keep themselves aware of items of interest.

Presentations:
AutoCAD “Dynamic Blocks”: by Peter Godfrey, Vice President of Vicaug Inc.
Peter continued his series of presentations of the “Dynamic Blocks” features, their use, applications and advantages.

Peter conducted a very much appreciated “question and answer” session as required – to the satisfaction of all in attendance.

“Bit Torrent”:
Peter Godfrey and Zoltan Toth gave an excellent joint presentation on the uses and features of the web-based peer-to-peer (P2P) world-wide “Bit Torrent” application.

This was very much appreciated by all in attendance as many had heard of it but had neither seen it in operation nor tried it for themselves.

“Virtual Machines”:
Zoltan Toth demonstrated the uses, set-up and features of “virtual machines” in which a number of real computers are emulated in that they (electronically) “reside” or “exist” within a “real” computer but can be “run” as separate computers.

Driver recovery and re-installation of them after re-installation of OS (in this case, XP):
Zoltan Toth demonstrated and discussed the retrieval of drivers and then the re-installation of them in a computer which had to have the Operating System re-installed. In this case it was XP but the procedures apply equally to W2K as well.

Zoltan searched the net for the required “free” (of course) software to retrieve the drivers that were not on the OS (XP) CD that he had. These drivers included but were nor limited to: main board; sound card; graphics card; CD/DVD drive/s and others.

Once the hard drive had been re-formatted and the OS (re)installed, all of the drivers that were retrieved were reinstalled and al of the equipment that required these drivers was run and checked fore operation – all was satisfactory.

The method used (somewhat) negated the need for the CD’s (missing/lost) on which the original drivers were provided.

Zoltan ran and compared the performance of several downloaded utilities and ranked them and used the one that the job best.

This method has huge advantages over any other method – particularly when the Computer was a “freebie” with XP installed but no CD’s etc.

The whole process was completed in a fraction of the time normally required and without any of the usual “drama”, angst” or “hang-ups”. Plus all of the drivers were retained and consolidated on a CD for future use and reference.

Further, this method is a very easy way of copying all drivers when a driver is installed or updated.

All presentations had adequate and excellent discussion sessions.

Reporting on Technical Aspects relating to Technical Aspects of Presentations Etc:
These minutes are of a general(ised) and “précis” nature only.

A more focussed, technical and topic-specific report by “others/another” will appear in the VICAUG Weblog (i.e. “blog”) – which is published on a “continuing/ongoing” basis at: https://vicaug.wordpress.com

The “blog” report/s will also include all links relating to the subject matter of these Minutes.

“Thank You’s”:
The President thanked the presenters for their excellent presentations. He also thanked members who had attended and participated in the presentations.

Next Meeting:
The next General meeting is intended to be held on Monday 2nd. April 2007 at this venue i.e. RMIT Building 94, 5th. Floor at 23-27 Cardigan Street, CARLTON – commencing at 6.30 pm.

Closure:
There being no further business, the President thanked all for attending, and closed the meeting at 9.30 pm.

(M.J.Ginnane)
Secretary and Public Officer.

Minutes of Committee Meeting 24 Jan 2007

1 February 2007

MINUTES OF VICAUG INC. (A0013467S) COMMITTEE MEETING
HELD ON: WEDNESDAY 24 JANUARY 2007

Attendance: 5 Committee members were in attendance.

Apologies: were received from 3 Committee members.

Opening: The President declared the meeting opened at 8.30 pm.

Minutes of Previous Committee Meeting (13 December 2006):
The Minutes of the previous meeting were adopted as a true record of proceedings.

“Items of Interest” in Business Out of the Minutes of Previous Meeting (13th. December 2006):

Nil.

Treasurer’s “Finances and Membership” report:
a. Bank Balances and Financial Report – as at 24 January 2007: Satisfactory.

b. 2006/07 Membership report: Satisfactory.
The Treasurer has sent “reminder notices” to members who have not yet paid their 2006/07 subscription/renewal fees.

c. Financial management: The Committee will assess costs to ensure that expenditure does not exceed income.

General Business:
1. Dates for General Meetings for 2007 (subject to confirmation):

The dates for 2007 General meetings, to be held on the first Monday of “even” months, subject to confirmation, are:
05 Feb; 02 Apr; 04 Jun; 06 Aug; 01 Oct; and 03 Dec

2. Notices of General Meeting/so:
Notices of Meetings will emailed to members and uploaded to the “Vicaug News” (blog”).

Presentation Topics:
“Dynamic blocks” (Part 1): Peter Godfrey; “News from the Pews”: Mark Miller; “Tips and Tricks”: Mark Miller; (any) :others”: to be advised (by Mark Miller)

a. February 2007:
“News from the Pews”: Mark Miller; “Tips and Tricks”: Mark Miller; (any) others”: to be advised (by Mark Miller);
“Struct Plus”: Peter Coburn – Mark Miller to advise.

b.
April 2007:
AutoCAD 2008: Steve Hunter – Mark Miller to advise.

c.
Possible topics for future meeting/so (to be determined/confirmed):
Various computer/computing-related general interest and AutoCAD-specific interest items – by various Committee members; AutoDesk “Inventor” – Mark Miller to advise; “Shareware” and “Freeware” (various) – Mark Miller to advise.

4. General Discussion and Speculation (On-going):
General discussion on CAD, computer, training and employment matters.

“Other” matters:
There were no “other matters”.

Next Committee Meeting:
The next Committee meeting will be held on Wednesday 14 February 2007.

Closure:
There being no further business, the President Closed the meeting at 10.30 pm.

(M.J. Ginnane)
Secretary and Public Officer.