Our Next Meeting : "PC and Mac Tips and Tricks"

Our Last Meeting: Wednesday 16th May - AGM + USB Microscope

Our last meeting was our Annual General Meeting followed by a presentation from Peter on his USB Microscope and from John Rye on his slide scanner. Thank you to all of those who attended and to those who undertake the roles of the Committee.

The formal minutes of the AGM will be published later, however a brief synopsis is given here.

Present: Gareth, Peter, Michael, John, Paul, Andy, and Daniel. There were no apologies received for absence. Gareth expressed our sorrow at losing Frank during the year.

The Club Finances are in a healthy state, although we are still unable to produce a formal account for the year. This will be done later when all the accounts are up to date.

The Committee were all re-elected and Andy was ratified as Treasurer. There will be no change in subscriptions and the visitor fee is waived once again this year. Gerald Dodson has agreed to act as liaison for us with EAUG.

Chairman's Report:

We have continued to find a wide variety of topics for our evenings over the last year that I hope have continued to interest people, calling upon the considerable knowledge and personal interest of those in the club.

Our club year began in June 2011 with an evening on PC optimisation and protection where Michael was able to share tips on both protecting Windows PCs from malware and infection but also in optimising systems and preventing slowdown from fragmentation, unnecessary bloat in the registry and more.

In July we focused on Media Centre PCs and software including the transcoding of video for storage and playback over a home network using Xbox and PS3, Windows Media Centre Edition, AppleTV and other compliant devices. While I doubt any of us are doing this with HD video yet due to the higher disk space and encoding requirements I am sure we will be revisiting this area in the future.

August was our Social Evening with a very pleasant evening out dining and catching up with friends from both ICENI and the EAUG. My thanks as ever to Peter and his wife Sheila for suggesting the venue and organising the evening where we were also able to catch up with Royal Moore.

In September we looked at storage devices with a particular emphasis on Solid State or Flash hard drives (SSDs) where Michael was able to demonstrate the very real performance benefits of modern flash drives when compared to conventional hard disc technology. Michael was also able to run utilities to show the estimated lifespan of the flash drives based on real world usage of his laptop which helps to alleviate the fears that flash memory with a finite number of write cycles would not be reliable.

In October we had a Mac evening with a detailed looked at some of the new features both big and small in Mac OSX Lion, ranging from under the hood UNIX changes to auto versioning of documents built into the file system and more. I'm sure we can expect an evening in the next year to look at Mountain Lion, where more features from the iPhone and iPad will be ported back to the desktop.

November saw us look at HD Video where Peter introduced us to the HD video recording capabilities of his new camera. Peter showed us footage he had taken on a recent holiday showing the capabilities of modern digital stills cameras that had a video recording facility. Peter also found some footage from many years ago from possibly our first gadgets evening, of Frank demonstrating his wind-up Gramophone, which I am sure brought back fond memories of a dear friend sadly missed.

December was of course our gadgets evening together with some season fare to eat, and we were fortunate that Anne, Frank's wife, was able to join us and show us photos of Frank over the years together with holidays they took together.

In January we held our New Year social evening with a meal at the Last Anchor in Ipswich and once again it was good to see everyone from both clubs, although sadly this time Royal couldn't join us.

February was my evening on the current state of play with Linux on ARM devices where we were able to look at the latest version of Ubuntu running on the Toshiba AC100, a net book design utilising an Nvidia Tegra2 dual core ARM processor and flash memory storage.

In March we once again had a slideshow evening, which is a good opportunity to catch up on places people have visited both on holiday and in spare time around Suffolk and Essex. While this evening is often a reserve on the yearly programme I always find them very enjoyable and look forward to the next one with interest.

Rounding out the year in April we returned to our RISC OS roots with a modern twist looking at the fastest current RISC OS device with the Pandaboard. While RISC OS is still in beta and active development for this device it is already quite stable (with a few caveats) and in demonstrations of rendering the Artworks Apple for instance it is very quick. Gareth had only recently received this board to be mainly used for Linux work; but I am sure will we see it again in future as RISC OS matures on the device.

As many of you know last month we had some discussion on a programme of topics for the next year and I hope that there is something of interest to everyone there. As ever if there are additional topics you would like to present or just hear about let us know and we'll fit them in.


USB Microscope and Slide Scanning with Peter and John Rye:

Peter has recently bought an inexpensive USB Microscope from Maplin. It consists of the camera module itself with a light and magnification wheel, together with a stand. It also has 'shutter' button to capture stills. It is designed primarily to run on Windows XP and later.

Peter had tried to demonstrate this on the night on his Mac laptop running the Windows software in Parallels Desktop, but this proved unreliable. It seemed to have problems seeing the USB device. Although he has also had it working with Ubuntu Linux. The small stand it comes with is not very well engineered.

The magnification claims to be up to 200x but in practice Peter has found it to be approximately 160x. Altering the magnification level also affects the focus length, which is a little strange, so it is necessary to move the object around to achieve the best results. It can function as a webcam as well.

Peter brought along a number of items to look at, the first being a postage stamp and the level of detail available was very impressive looking at 80x magnification. Andy commented that it may be useful for identifying dry joints on circuit boards.

As it functions as a USB camera you can capture both stills and video onto the PC. The unit comes with Windows software which includes measurement programmes.

John had also brought along a Maplin device, a USB slide scanner. John has 4000+ slides dating back to the 1960s that are starting to degrade so it is time to copy them onto the computer.

As they are only of family interest a relatively inexpensive USB scanner was ideal. The scanner can scan at 1800 or 3600dpi and John uses the 1800dpi setting that he finds very acceptable.

The slide holder can accept 3 slides at a time and is then pushed into the scanner lining up the first slide and hit acquire in the software.

John scans using Windows but then transfers the images across into Virtual-RPC to store and edit them under RISC OS.



As Gareth is currently trying to emulate Douglas Adams he was able to compile his meeting account on his iPad on a long haul flight to Vancouver and mail it back on landing!


ICENI Future programme

June 20th "PC and Mac Tips and Tricks" Michael and Peter et al
July 18th "Scanning evening" All
August 15th Social evening - Venue:TBA All
September 19th "Linux update" Gareth
October 17th "Mountain Lion" (Mac OSX 10.8) Gareth
November 21st "Windows 8 - The Final Version!" Michael
December 19th "Party and Gadgets evening" All
January 16th Social evening - Venue:TBA All
February 20th "Cloud computing" TBA
March 20th "RPC Emu" TBA
April 17th AGM + extras All
Emergency topic - "Slideshow" All

Meetings are now on the Third Wednesday of the month unless otherwise stated.

Our meetings are held at the Bourne Vale Social Club, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE , for a map and other details please see the website. http://icenicomputerclub.users.btopenworld.com

The first visit is free and subsequent visits for non - members is £2·50. The membership fee is £20 due from the AGM date in April, but may be reduced for those joining late in the year.


Continuing our publicity for EAUG events, there is now a full list of meetings up to the end of the year on their website.


Meetings are at the Great Baddow Village Hall, on the second Tuesday of the month

opening at 7:30 p.m. for a start at 7:45 - 8:00 p.m.

For directions see below (note the new web addresses)

http://www.eaug.org.uk or 'phone one of the contacts on http://www.eaug.org.uk/ppl.htm

Tea/coffee/biscuits usually available.

Visitors pay 2.00 GBP for the evening, which is deductible from the normal joining subscription if you decide to join at a later date.

See the Membership page of the website for more information:


St Andrews Computer Club (formerly Ipswich Computer Club and prior to that Mid-Suffolk Computer Users Group)

They have now moved to the St. Andrew's Computer Club at Britannia Road, Ipswich.

They have a full programme on the parish website (http://www.ourstandrews.co.uk), We may be able to make new contact with them to arrange something in common.

Special Notice - Insurance

"ICENI does not have any Insurance cover for computers or other equipment so please be advised that you bring machines to the club at your own risk."

However many household insurance policies will include cover away from home often with no increase in premium. (Ed.)

Our Website and Email

If anyone would like a copy of the CD of our old newsletters this could be arranged.

I am open to suggestions on what people would like to have included in the website.

Our website URL is

http://icenicomputerclub.users.btopenworld.com as a virtual domain,

it can also be reached using http://www.btinternet.com/~icenicomputerclub

Email to: iceni@woolridge.org.uk