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Current CO2 level in the atmosphere

University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of
Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE)
Jim Prall, ECE Systems administrator my photo album -
Our Morocco trip album
My pages on climate scientists and skeptics
James W Prall
Senior Systems Programmer
The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Toronto
Office: GB254D
Campus tel.: x65760

  Website for APS111 fall 2012 seminar group on 'Responding to global warming: geoengineering' here.  

My blog, 'Green Herring'


My Lists of Climate Scientists pages.

I list over 2100 authors on climate change, including all 619 members of working group 1 of the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, with links to their university or research lab home page. I also list signers of open letters or declarations for or against action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and compare the standing of the various signers.

I am a system administrator and tech support contact for all research computing within ECE, along with our support group of Eugenia, Jay, Norman, Yong and Matthew.
All support requests should be addressed not to me directly, but to our common support email that connects to our "RT" support ticketing system using the ECE help email address which you should have received already.

This page has been validated to HTML 4.01 specifications. Valid HTML 4.01!

Steps to add a direct TCP printer in Windows 7 Steps to add a direct TCP printer in XP
ALL Windows users (both laptop and desktop PCs, at home and at ECE) need to review the vital security precautions I've listed at: Windows security advice. In short: be sure every Windows computer you use has the current release of Symantec Antivirus, Windows Defender, Spybot S&D, windows updates, updates to critical 3rd party apps and plug-ins, particularly Adobe Flash, Reader, and Shockwave. Have strong passwords assigned to every windows login account. Do all your web browsing and daily work in a standard (limited) user account, never from an account with Administrator rights. Use a router with firewall for your home connection (most wired and wireless routers now include this.) Consider running ZoneLabs' ZoneAlarm for added security. Disable or cancel the "autorun" feature when inserting USB keys.
Laptop battery recalls: click HERE for a list of laptop models that have had safety recalls of their battery packs due to instances of FIRE. All laptop users should check this list!


Quick links

This page: Top Picks - vital PC Stores Interesting Links Books
UofT links: Licensed Software Office Procurement UofT Network Operations Centre - Events & Outages UofT central I.T.S. (Information & Technology Services) UofT Library Catalogue Online journals RefWorks web-based citation manager (like ProCite, EndNote), licensed for UofT Create Change - on journal pricing UTORProtect procedures and guidelines Computer and Security Policies Ali Nabavi - ECE power engineering R.A. Faculty of Music performances

Google Scholar - Google for journal articles! Tip: set up UofT in your Scholar Prefs under Library Links, and Google with then add "GetIt" links to e-journal articles beside search results for every journal UofT has a subscription!
Reference Weather radar Intellicast Weather Wind Forecast
PC Stores T.O. maps 211 community info M.W. Dictionary
Software TeX for Windows: Miktex plus TeXnic IDE TeX archive Linux Journal Fedora Legacy for RH 7.3, 9 Windows security tips Stay Safe Online U.S. CERT My Security Links
Engineering IEEE Desktop Engineering magazine on desktop computing in Engineering applications Engineering Tips Globalspec - specs, parts, info engineering.com - incl. job search Careerbuilder.ca job search Comp.risks archive MATLAB Central
MATLAB help Fuel Cell Today Hybrid Car mileage
Sailing Vendee Globe Around Alone race Ellen MacArthur solo CYA YachtWorld Sailing.org ISAF Sailing World Sailing Anarchy Web sail sim
sail trim
Miscellaneous Dave Barry The IgNobel Prizes News of the Weird Nutraingredients Houshang's page Virtual U.--run your own Univ. in this free simulator
Long hours at computer linked to eye damage!

X11 server for Windows

Many of us use applications on Unix and Linux servers that use the X11 "GUI" (graphical user interface), such as Matlab, Altera, etc. Unix allows remote display of the X11 GUI on other X11 displays; MS Windows does not use X11, but there are several products that add an X11 display 'server' to MS Windows. (The machine where you are sitting, looking and clicking is termed the display 'server' in X11, while the remote machine sending GUI images is the 'client'; the terms are the reverse of what you may be used to where the remote machine you log into is a "server" for many other tasks like file storage, web server, etc.)

We've recently reviewed several X11 servers for MS Windows. We had previously recommended X-Deep/32 from Pexus, but this is no longer available as freeware. It may still be suitable as a purchased commercial product for those willing to pay. That leaves two other free X11 option we know of, Xming and Cygwin. Xming is compact and simple to install, and it works. One drawback of Cygwin for people used to MS Windows is the complexity of Cygwin's unix-like environment (with its many package options and potentially many thousands of small files on your windows disk.) However some find Cygwin the most powerful and full-featured. Take your pick.

Firefox: New Choice for Web Browsing

Many of the security problems in Windows get in through the aging web browser, Internet Explorer (the familiar 'blue e' icon). There has long been a choice for Windows users to install another web browser instead, such as Netscape. More recently, two new alternatives have become available: Firefox and Google Chrome. Firefox provides tabbed browsing, automatic pop-up blocking and lots of other web security enhancements, and is extensible with many free plug-ins for added features. In May 2005 the Mozilla team marked 50 Million downloads of Firefox!

One major plus for Firefox is unlimited text zoom, which I find immensely beneficial. Use CTL-[+] to enlarge and CTL-[-] to reduce text size, or use CTL+[scroll wheel] to scroll through multiple text sizes quickly. A nice break from squinting at small type! Internet Explorer limits you to only 5 text sizes in total.

All users of Mozilla Firefox should update to the latest version download here.

One caution: Firefox is not covered by Microsoft's "automatic updates," so you need to watch for alerts to download each new release to get its latest security updates. That's quite easy, though. Watch for a red arrow circle at the upper-right of your Firefox window, alerting you that a new version or update is available. Click it, download the new version, close Firefox, and run the installer. It's small and quick to download, and really fast installing - well under a minute.

FireFox supports a variety of add-ons, plug-ins and extensions to customize it. One good choice for extra security is NoScript an add-on to prevent sites from running JavaScript until you add them to your "white list" of trusted sites.

Another package from the Mozilla group is the browser + email suite Mozilla.

Choose any of these alternative browsers over Internet Explorer -- a great way to avoid all the network attacks focused on the seemingly endless supply of security flaws in Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

I have been using Firefox for a couple of months now and I'm mostly very impressed. A few pages that don't look right in Firefox require me to go back to MSIE, but only for those. Another alternate browser I have not tried but that some users like a lot is Opera which allows free downloads of an advertisement-supported version, or you can pay to get it with no ads.
Note that Microsoft requires use of MS Internet Explorer on their vital WindowsUpdate and OfficeUpdate sites. Thus, you have to retain MSIE even if you switch to another browser for all your daily web access.
Also, Firefox has trouble displaying some specialized content such as certain JavaScript animations. If you run into this problem in Firefox, simply right-click anywhere in the page and choose "Open this page in IE" at the end of the pop-up context menu. (Just get out of IE as soon as you can afterward!)


Click here for advice on backups for PC.


Please continue to check the Windows Update site regularly (every week) as new security updates are being released quite often by Microsoft. Although you can and should set this to be automatic, it is still worth checking manually at times just to confirm that the security updates are being applied. Such updates often require that you restart your computer to complete their installation, so save your work before starting an update.

There is a separate update website for Microsoft Office products. Go to Office Online and click on "Check for Updates" there to get patches and updates to your MS Office products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, FrontPage, Visio). Note that you must use MS Internet Explorer for this - alternate browsers will not be able to get updates (why not? Ask Microsoft...)


Internet viruses and worms can spread rapidly between PCs running Microsoft Windows. ALL users of Windows must verify that their Symantec AntiVirus (or Norton AntiVirus) definitions are up-to-date (no more than one week old.)

If you are infected with the Blaster worm, you can prevent your PC from rebooting by killing the process named "MSBLAST.EXE" before going on with the patch and the FixBlast tool. Open the Task Manager by pressing Control+ALT+DEL (once!); in the Processes tab, find the process named MSBLAST.EXE, click on it, and click "End Process", then confirm that you want to end it. This will allow you to keep working on your PC to remove the worm and prevent it returning.

The more recent Welchia worm may not cause your PC to reboot, but may cause it to be very slow. Open the Task Manager and look for a process named DLLHOST.EXE. You may not be able to "End Process" on this. Get the FixWelch tool, run it, and this will stop and remove the Welchia worm. Then apply the MS03-026 patch (same patch as for Blaster worm) and restart Windows. If you run into any trouble applying the patch or getting up-to-date antivirus definitions, get help from me or anyone you can.

Keep Up With The Latest Patches and Updates to Windows

Be sure to run Windows Update often. I recommend at least once a week. You can configure Automatic Updates control panel (Win2000/XP) to download needed updates automatically, then install on a set schedule or alert you when they are ready for installation. These updates sometimes require you to reboot, so save your files before installing.

Don't Open E-Mail Attachments

Even if it came from someone you know, unless you are certain the sender really had a file to send you. If in doubt, phone the sender to make sure. Many e-mail viruses are going around that falsify the sender's address, so you can't really tell where they came from by that. Also watch out for a recent email virus that claims your mail could not be delivered (to someone you likely never really e-mailed at all!) They claim the rejected message is the attachment, but instead the attachment is the virus!

Microsoft NEVER e-mails any patches or updates to customers

Certain recent e-mail viruses use this claim to lure people into running the attachment, but instead of a security patch, the attachment is the virus! There is a stated policy from Microsoft that they never send updates by email. You are always directed to Microsoft's website for updates.

Conserve electric power: Click here for instructions on setting power save mode on your display under Windows. Click here for instructions on setting power save mode on your display under linux.


Here are links for my "top picks" of free software that every Windows user should have. Most links are installers, which you can download, run, and then dump the downloaded copy. Windows 2000 may let you "run" directly from the link without saving. If you have Download Accelerator, you can click "Run" in the dialog box that comes up after it downloads the link.

Symantec Antivirus (formerly Norton): UofT ANTIVIRUS DOWNLOAD Follow link & login with UTORid to download.
SpyBot to detect spyware: download SypBot from safer-networking website Install, update, immunize, click 'Check for Problems'

The following are some more tools I often find useful. For PuTTY.exe, right-click and "Save Target as..." to download a copy of the program to keep on your desktop. (Or if you are a guest on someone else's computer, in Windows 2000 you can even run PuTTY from this link without downloading.)

PuTTY SSH client: UPDATED! Putty home page Download new v. 0.6 - security fix!
WinSCP secure file transfer: UPDATED! WinSCP home page Install the latest version if you have any older version!
SSH Tunnel Client v.3 installer: local copy or original You can "Run" this installer from here. Example setup screen for UofT
Firefox browser Firefox website Visit their site to download latest installer.
Mozilla browser, mail reader, IRC & news Mozilla Visit their site to download latest installer.
CD Burner XP Pro - freeware CD/DVD writer for Windows CDB XP Visit their site to download latest installer.
Browser Plug-Ins FLASH, ShockWave, QuickTime Run these installers to let your browser support animated content.
Sun JAVA VM Microsoft's Java is flakey. Go with Sun who invented Java! Download Jaava SE from java.sun.com
Adobe Acrobat Reader Download from adobe.com
Show all startups in the registry Autoruns Checks the registry for all startup entries, can turn them off. Much easier than REGEDIT!
Web JetAdmin - TCP printing to HP Lasers WJA for Win2000 or WJA for XP You can "Run" these installers from here.
Monitor your hard drive with HD Health: local copy of 2.1beta or original site System tray tool to monitor hard drive status and temperature.


All versions of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft applications are prone to a growing array of viruses, worms, trojan horse programs, and hacker tricks. Every Windows PC connected to the network must take the security measures described on this Windows security page. It is vitally important to observe these precautions. Please read this page and follow the recommendations.

Product information

Reviews and customer feedback sites:

Ziff-Davis ZD Net (publishers of PC Magazine)

Technical info:

Tom's Hardware pages
Motherboard Express
Disk Checkup Small, stand-alone tool to check hard drive status and temperature.
HD Health System tray tool to monitor hard drive status and temperature.
Hard drive diagnostic tools
Toshiba hard drive warranty check

Some local computer stores near us:

The Campus Computer Shop upstairs from the UofT Bookstore in the Koffler Student Centre on St. George St. Authorized distributors for HP, Apple, IBM, Sun, Sony, Acer, Eurocom, Xerox and others. Academic discounts on many products. Use their Departmental Ordering for best rates on Adobe products (even lower than the boxed Academic editions they also stock.)
A list and map of computer stores along College St. near Spadina - this blog entry includes some user comments on the stores. The former interactive map at gosee.ca has gone offline, sadly. Another static clone of the old map gives the full list of store website links, here
Sonnam on Spadina, east side just north of college - just up from the 7-11. Store hours 11 to 7 (hmmm!)
Alpha Plus Computers (tel. 416-323-0898; ask for Sam) on College St., south side west of Spadina - They accept UofT purchase orders and can deliver on campus. Competitive pricing. Preferred vendor of Energy Systems Group.
Honson on College, west of Spadina on the south side. Helpful.
Canada Computers on College at Augusta. Very competitive pricing; wide selection. Store gets very busy.
Factory Direct College St., north side, west of Spadina - the one with the old movie marquee. Lots of cheap deals, many refubished (used). Can get quite busy. Very limited warranty on many items.

Canadian mail order sites:

These sites operate in Canadian dollars and ship from Canada (except Dell).
Dell Canada
Direct Dial Wide selection, low prices
Micro Warehouse
Misco (office equipment also)
Amazon.ca Canadian site has some non-book lines

Pricewatch collects prices from many US websites for all kinds of computer components - a useful reference

Book picks

My personal reading list, current and past picks

Book suggestions related to engineering:

These books are each lively and enjoyable reading, particularly pertinent to engineers and systems people. If you want a break from equations that's still relevant to your career, a look at the "big picture", or a taste of what you could be getting yourself into professionally, check out any or all of the following:

Normal Accidents : living with high-risk technologies by Charles Perrow [New York : Basic Books, c1984.]
-- 5 copies in UT Library system including 2 at Eng. Library.
An excellent survey of the many ways that systems fail and the sometimes bizarre consequences. Memorable and a great source of cautionary lines of thought. I have retold several of the disasters recounted in this book at parties, to good effect.

To Engineer is Human : the role of failure in successful design by Henry Petroski. [New York : Vintage Books, 1992.]
-- 4 copies in UTL including 2 at Eng. Library.
An enjoyable account of the engineering way of life. Reflections on what it means to be an engineer. Highly readable.

Fatal Defect : chasing killer computer bugs by Ivars Peterson. [New York : Times Books, c1995.]
-- One copy at Gerstein Library.
An engrossing look at the perils of software-based systems in control of safety-critical applications. Inspired by the fascinating discussions over recent years in the comp.risks newsgroup. A must-read for anyone looking to work in a field where software plays a part in systems control.

The Cuckoo's Egg: tracking a spy through the maze of computer espionage by Cliff Stoll. [New York : Doubleday, 1989.] One of the granddads of the internet as we know it, Stoll writes a truly engaging and amusing account of his time as a "volunteer" unix admin during his grad studies at Berkeley.