Rochester Computer Club Monitor - February 1998
Table of Contents
RCC Newsletter Quick Jump
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In the absence of prior reserved or restricted rights, material
published in the Newsletter is thereby copyrighted by the Rochester
Computer Club, and subject to negotiation for reprints or further
Inside Front Cover
Published monthly by the:
Rochester Computer Club
1945 Ridge Rd E. Dept. 5180
Rochester, NY 14622-2467
to promote the interchange of ideas and experiences that may provide help and consolation for users of personal computers- at least those utilizing some version of DOS, OS/2, or CP/M and environments like Windows and Geos.
We welcome letters, questions and contributions that may stretch our minds, help us laugh at ourselves and open new possibilities in the ways we put these machines to work.
Messages can be left on the BBS- the General Message area for anyone; Club Members may use Area 4. For full articles, do an ASCII-text version; if you have graphics, make them .PCX black-&-whites (please include a note on credits and copyright holders for all graphics); ZIP them all into one file; and upload it to File Area 8- The newsletter area; or attach it as a file to your message. We reserve the right to edit, but will strive to include all pertinent submissions in the earliest possible issue.
In the absence of prior reserved or restricted rights, material published in the Newsletter is thereby copyrighted by the Rochester Computer Club, and subject to negotiation for reprints or further use.
Advertising in the Monitor can be negotiated at the rate of:
$25/full-page/insertion; $15 half-page; $10 quarter-page.
Classifieds (1/16 page) are free to RCC Members; call for details. Contact the Editor by the 15th of the month.
-Steve Staub, Editor email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Help Hours: 9AM to 4PM [m] 6PM to 9PM [l] Both [']
d BASE Applications Programming
File Management (Housekeeping)
GEOS (Ensemble / NewDeal Office)
Internet / Netscape
HELP Writing reviews for the club newsletter
HELP Writing reviews for the club newsletter
HELP Writing reviews for the club newsletter
A great big "Thank You" to all the people who helped make the January meeting the success it was. The presenters, including those who filled in for those who didn't show, the stage managers who did battle with the chalk board and won, and to the organizers, especially Tom Bowllan. Thanks also to Karen Pollard, known unofficially as KP, for handling for the first time the check-ins, memberships both new and renewal, and all the folderol that goes with that job. You all "done good."
Now an announcement: As most of us have known for some time, the President's job is too big for one person. Consequently I am appointing some Executive Assistants to help me out. They will serve, as they say in parliamentary lingo, "at the President's pleasure." The first such person is Dr. Jean Bradt.
A couple of other matters will require some help from the membership at large. Please read on and be prepared to let me or Jean know of your willingness to serve.
I think we need a New Directions Committee. The idea is to compare us with other Users' Groups on the continent. We can establish some benchmarks or standards set by those other Groups. Then we ask ourselves what would it take for us to become one of those Best Users' Groups in the country? Would you like to serve on this Committee? Lemme know soonest.
Something else needed is a Publications Board. We have several publications, but we've expected one or two people to carry the whole burden.
That's not fair to either the persons or the Club. I see the Publications Board as maintaining an oversight function on everything put out with the RCC name on it. Including The Monitor. Volunteers?
Budgeting is something else we have needed for a long time. Each commit- tee or SIG needs to decide what it wants to do for the year and to figure out how much those activities will cost. We would like budget proposals to the Executive Board by its March meeting. We will keep in touch. Frank Howden and I will probably run a meeting so that we can all figure out how to fulfil this responsibility. When we know what it costs to run our organization, we can divide that number by the annual dues of $30. The result will tell us how many members we need to maintain ourselves at the current level of activity and sophistication.
In the past we have considered getting incorporated, but nothing ever hap- pened. At the January Planning Meeting the Board authorized me to proceed with getting incorporated. Any volunteers to help me out?
This is going to be an active and busy year. We are already growing in numbers. It's time to develop an appreciation of ourselves as a group that should be very important. Rochester Computer Club, December 16, 1997 St. Stephen' s Church.
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Minute by Minute
Vice President-elect Frank Howden opened the meeting as directed by President -elect Joe Pia.
Frank stood before the blackboard and with chalk in hand proceeded to sketch the outline of an agenda. Asking for points of interest he soon had a full slate and with imput established an order of priority.
Because of a commitment Charles Sumner asked to be heard first. His message was that we need a BBS. Club members could seek information and as members contact each other. One service line disignated as official BBS. After studying many options and reporting their worth to us Charles made a motion to accept Bob Frank's offer to provide BBS service. It was seconded and approved.
Steve Staub will look into the possible need for larger facilities for our Program Meetings.
Karen Pollard has decided to grab the bull by the horns and accept the Membership Chair. Good for her, we wish her well.
Once again a request was made to conduct a knowledge survey. The purpose would be to generally learn the level of CPU expertise members possess.
The survey sheet could be handed out at the door by Steve Staub and his helpers, asking each person to fill out and hand in before leaving.
The Library was discussed and the need for a CD ROM was accepted as a neccessity. It was moved and seconded that $80.00 be advanced to Marty Becktell for purchase.
Phone bills connected with our BBS's budget came up and it was voted to send Paul Cassarino a check of $50.00 and ask for an accounting of any excess out-standing.
On the subject of budgets, every chair and SIG must submit a budget for the comming year. It was suggested that at the January Program Meeting the Secretary contact all leaders of SIG's and stress the urgency of presenting a budget.
With the retirement of Dick Comegys it appears set that Rochester Computer Club can continue to use St. Stephens Church as a base for the formation and mailing of our Newsletter.
The cost will be $100.00 per month for use of the premises and $90.00 per month for the use of the machines. Program Chair Tom Bowllan will contact SIG chairs and give a short talk stressing more involvement.
Tom took an impromtu survey of the last Program Meeting and the marjority opted for shorter meetings.
Pres. Joe Pia, Vice Pres. Frank Howden and Program Chair Tom Bowllan will decide the adgenda for the January Program Meeting.
With the apparent slow death of our BBS and considerable lower exspenses it was suggested that we look into cutting the dues to $25.00 yearly.
Vice. Pres. Frank Howden thanked Marty Becktell and made a plea that he will comtinue to contribute to our users group. It was warmly endorsed by all.
RCC25 PROGRAM MEETING 1\13\98 Brighton High School
Vice Pres. FRANK HOWDEN opened Help's Half Hour without an expert and the belief that information will come from the members and guests present. The new format worked well. A plea was made to stand and speak in the direction best for words to be heard. Topics ran from problems with Prodigy upgrading, call them. Browser is often more up to date than manual. Sometimes Help can help. Can you you run pure DOS on same machine with Win95? It was suggested to create a floppy disk for DOS. The session proved to be informative.
TOM BOWLLAN urged members to look into the benefits of an active and vibrant SIG program. Pick one or start one of your own choosing and interest.
Publisher STEVE STAUB needs help with the newsletter. He believes every member is a helper so join up. At present the newsletter is set up as follows; first page is the Presidents; second page, recordings of meetings; then lists of software on hand; followed by GERYLL NORRISS's library report. It is hoped that SIG Chairs will submit small minutes of group activities. STEVE urged that software reviews be handed in quickly and limited to two pages and spell checked. DICK COMEGYS will soon end his association with the newsletter and needs two members to work with him and learn the printing process. Contact him at 436-3329.
Putting the newsletter together usually happens the last Sunday of the month as noted in the newsletter. We can use up to eight members so count yourself as one and come along.
BOB CLELAND is a one person Lotus 123 SIG who would like to see a group form. Meanwhile those interested can contact him and learn by phone. 865-2113. e-mail:email@example.com
KAREN WILLBRANT was drawn to Rochester Computer Club because of our SIG activities. As Chair of the reclaiming and reassembling of unused CPU components SIG she, with the help of Marty Becktell, Stu Becktell and Mel Parish managed to provide CPUs to county and city schools. Look for her detailed article in newsletter. If interested in joining her usefull and educational group contact her at: 346-3029. e-mail; firstname.lastname@example.org
MARTY BECKTELL WIN NT SIG will meet at his house the last Tuesday of the month at 7:00PM. WIN NT is the grandfather of 95. Provides super service. Faster and does not crash as much. Because of economic value he hoped for certification interest but will go in whatever direction group wishes. Reach him at 473-7644 or e-mail:email@example.com and he will respond.
Chairman TOM WALTERS; INTERNET SIG meets the 3rd Thursday's of the month. It is often a floating group so contact him at 266-1712 for details.
JOHN McMILLAN reported that the New Users Group in the able hands of PETE MOORE meets the first Tuesday of the month at Henrietta MEDIA PLAY 6:30 - 7:30. Call John at 872-4867 for details.
Game Chair STU BECKTELL is forming a group for the 1st Tuesday of the month. Come and learn about new and other games.Strategy for play and questions and answers will be covered. Possible skill levels will be established and members listed according to proficiency growth.
Librarian GERYLL NORRISS has a new CPU with enough goodies to give her loads of fun and room for future moves. A reminder here; getting software from the library means honesty and integrity. Therefore, it is assumed that if a member uses it and then returns it to the library it is hoped that everything will be erased from the members CPU.
CHARLES HASLIP and CHARLES SUMNER will work with BOB FRANK in the operation of the BBS chosen for members use. BOB at this time is much too busy to go it alone. The CHARLES TWINS urge members to submit information to the BBS, such as SIG and club meetings, etc.
Vice Pres. FRANK HOWDEN conducted the business portion of the meeting which consisted mainly of reviewing the by-laws page by page and deleting all references to Frog and Lilypad. This meant one page at a time being scrutinized on the overhead screen and discussed. Pages one through five were covered and the changes approved and passed singly. Copies of the new by-laws with the changes will be available at future meetings.
Bill Wells, Sect'y
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RCC Monitor article, February 1998
By: Robert Frank
Title: BBS News
Greetings fellow club members. Many of you have known me as the Software Committee Chairman and the Program Committee Chairman for the club in previous years. Now I'm your BBS sysop! Actually, to keep the record straight, it's my BBS and I'm letting to club use it, but lets not let that stand in the way. Come on in and make yourself at home.
The BBS is called New York Online and it's phone number is (716) 227-6966. I've always described the BBS as a family BBS offering shareware, Fidonet conferences, Fidonet Netmail, Internet E-Mail and games to play. Also in the near future we'll be offering Internet Newsgroups, as soon as I figure out how. I've had a few unattended to problems to fix on the BBS and there are a couple of others to tackle, but on top of my things to do list is to setup special areas and a menu on the BBS for the club's use.
There is already a public and a Members to Members message area on the BBS as well as a members only file area. What needs to be added is a place to drop off newsletter reviews, a membership form for new members, announcements of upcoming events and what ever else we can think of. Is there anything anyone would like to see available on the BBS? Let me know what you want and I'll see if I can supply that service for you.
Seeing how the BBS will now be associated with the computer club, I think it would be appropriate that the BBS bulk up it's computer support areas. One thing I'll be looking for in the future is file and message areas with a technical support emphasis. There must be a file feed, for example, of Windows drivers and that sort of thing.
For your information, below is a message sent to all users of the BBS on 1/18/98. Give it a read, it broaches a few issues that you might find interesting.
Hello boys and girls:
I'm writing you this message today to inform you of some new changes to the BBS. First I would like to apologize for being an absentee sysop over the past year. As some of you know, my Mom became gravely ill a year ago and passed away. Mom's sickness, death and an extended grieving process has kept away from my BBS for far to long. I intend to be far more active in the future.
A new body of users have joined us here on the BBS. I would like to welcome the membership of the Rochester Computer Club that has adopted this BBS as their own. I'm proud that they have chosen New York Online as their home and in the future I'll be adding special areas and features for their use.
Once you have finished reading this message and precede on to the rest of the BBS, you'll find new menus that I hope will make the BBS easier to use. ANSI graphic pull down menus have replaced the multitude of separate screens you have used in the past. Those of you who are still using the plain text ASCII menus I would like to encourage you to switch over to the ANSI menus if your computer system supports them. You can change your selection of which menus you would like to use by pressing 'A' in the configuration menu. I hope everyone will give the ANSI menus a chance, their cool, slick and easier to use.
Returning to the BBS after an extended absence is free Internet E-Mail. In the message menu you'll see a selection labeled "E-Mail", this selection will take you to a sub-menu where you can select to go to the Fidonet Netmail area or the Internet E-Mail area. Each of theses areas offer a separate message area and commands for the two different types of E-Mail. To send an Internet E-Mail message simply select 'W' (Write) from the Internet E-Mail menu and place the E-Mail address of the recipient in the To: field like this:
Posting message in EchoMail area "Internet E-Mail".
From : Robert Frank
To : Jsmith@juno.Com
Subject: This is an Internet E-Mail
It's that simple. To reply to an Internet E-Mail, simply press 'R' (Reply) from the commands offered at the bottom of the message the same you would reply to any other message. I have gone to great lengths to make this process as simple as possible. Those of you that know how send Internet E-Mail on other BBSes or the way it use to be done here, forget that and let the BBS do the work for you.
People from around the world can send you Internet E-Mail to this BBS. Your Internet address on this BBS is First.Last@nyol.wnybbs.net Simply replace your first name where it says "First" in the address and your last name where it says "Last" in the address and you have your Internet E-Mail address. Remember that the first and last names used in the Internet address have to match your log-on name. If you log-on with the name Robert Frank, your Internet address would be Robert.Frank@nyol.wnybbs.net Also, the Internet gateway that the Internet mail is sent through does not support file attachments. You will not be able to send or receive messages with attached files through this system. Its a limitation of the gateway we'll have to live with.
One last thing to take note of is those of you who use the BlueWave mail reader will notice that there is no longer a separate offering in the menus for the BlueWave door. In the message menu there is an offering for an offline mail reader door. This offline mail reader door can create BlueWave mail packets for you as well as QWK and QWKE mail packets. Give it a try.
In conclusion, I'll continue to update and improve the BBS in the future and offer whatever services I can economically offer to provide the best service I can to the community. Take heart that while the Internet has taken it's toll on the BBS community, I plan on keeping my BBS up and running the best quality BBS I can for the foreseeable future.
Thank you for using New York Online!
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YOU CAN WRITE A SOFTWARE REVIEW (PART II) Geryll Norriss
As we open Part II of our discussion of RCC software reviews, you've successfully installed the application on your machine. You've also kept notes on what that procedure was like --- notes and recommendations for other users. Now you're going to start using the program, so one of the first things you'll do is configure the software to your tastes and your computer. You don't yet know all the details of how you wish to personalize the application, but you do know some important specifics such as what printer you wish to install and what monitor you're using.
Hopefully the opening/welcome screen will offer you configuration options right off the bat. Just follow the instructions onscreen and SAVE your choices when you're done. Access the manual!! Individualized setup or "getting started" info should be listed. If not, you might have to search look around a little. If you find yourself looking at the basic Windows workscreen, try clicking on each of the main menu titles across the top and checking out the new choices under each one. Use common sense as your first attempt and get creative only if that doesn't work. Look for possible titles such as Preferences, SetUp and Config.
If neither the manual nor basic exploration yield answers, you might try exiting the program and looking in Program Manager, My Computer or Explorer for a file ending in ".cfg" or some other name which suggests the same idea. It could be a clue. It could also be a trap. If you're confused, e-mail a comrade, connect to the vendor BBS or call nefarious Tech-Support. There are really very few stupid questions and if you're just beginning to navigate a new program, there is nothing shameful about needing help. You need only be embarrassed if you needed help and didn't swallow your pride to ask. Again, keep notes on how simple or difficult the developers made your quest to run their program.
A software evaluation isn't so much about your ability to run the application as it is about the strength of the product and its ease of use. This means you ought to be able to look at your screen and with a little forethought, intuit or perceive how to make the program useful to you. The basic functions of the application ought to be apparent. (Details are another matter; be patient here.) You ought to be able to read the manual and then with common sense proceed to use the program. If you can't figure it out or if the answers to your questions sound off-the-wall and using the application is mentally damaging, SAY SO IN YOUR REVIEW!!!!!
One word of caution, however. Don't expect a cat to behave as a dog. If the box says the application is a full-featured word processor, don't expect to learn the huge and powerful program in a day or a week. Be kind to yourself and again, use common sense. If the vendor says the application keeps a database of mailing addresses, don't assume it's really going to be a template for the Great American Novel. Many programs must be used an evaluated with a clear eye toward the targeted consumer group. Spreadsheet programs for CPA's are not going to be the same as home finance programs for part-time standup comics. Dogs don't meow and cats don't bark.
Now give yourself some time to explore and play around with the program. Maybe a week, maybe two. Try it until you get frustrated AND THEN STOP. Don't pressure yourself. Tomorrow or later in the evening will do just fine. If your kids are screaming to be fed, the phone is ringing, the hot water heater is flooding the basement and you've got a migraine anyway, it's really not the program's fault if it won't work right, is it?
Look for how to do the most important tasks you have and jot down a cheat sheet on the keystrokes it takes to do them. Yes, even techies need post-its on the monitor. How does this program compare to a similar one you've worked with before? Project beyond the apparent learning curve and decide if this application seems like it's going to become comfortable once you learn the features. Ask a family member or a friend what they think. Ask around at the RCC meeting to see if anyone else has used it and if they like it. This isn't to imply you can't decide on your own; two different people often have two very different needs. So, does this program do what you need it to do? If not, this is the time to ask someone more experienced if there is something you've missed. If the box and the manual says the program can automatically extract the birth dates of the children below age 18 in the family registry database, but you can't make it work right, you have to assume (for the time being) that it can be done. Ask someone. You may have found a bug, but most likely you'll end up saying, "Oh ... I see!"
Time to wrap it up and start thinking directly toward your written review for The Monitor. Would you recommend this program to your RCC colleagues? Remember, they'll be paying some percentage of retail for it, so will it be worth their money and/or energy? Why or why not?
Sit down in a quiet place with your notes and start writing simple sentences (great advice, huh?) to communicate your thoughts and feelings about the application. Yes, include your feelings; this is a review and that implies it is your opinion based on your experience. Both the vendor and the reader wish to know a real person's reaction to the program. They wish to know what was good and what was confusing. So tell it like it is.
Write the review, save it as an ASCII file and make a copy for yourself. Now make a copy on a 3 1/2" diskette and hand it personally to either the Software Chairman (ROGER JESTEL) or the newsletter editor (STEVE STAUB). Done. Whew. You now legally own the software. Congratulations!
One more short note: If you had problems with anything in the last paragraph, open your latest RCC newsletter and look on the inside of the front cover for the names, phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses of members who have volunteered to help any other member write a review. Call one of them if you feel the need. I promise they didn't volunteer just to see their names in print. They want to help and they know there are all kinds of reasons why someone might have trouble with or be intimidated by the process. It's only simple if you believe it's simple and you might need help the first time so your second review is a breeze. Good luck!
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Adventures with the Built-In Explorer
Microsoft's battle with the Justice Department has frankly been a matter of academic interest to me- up until last week (early January! Then I tried to send a Fax_
To drop back a bit. I've had Win95 on an AT&T machine for a couple of years now; with the OS/2 boot-manager, Win's been a secondary system- even though the machine's modem and sound-card are Win-dependent- a situation I will avoid in the future at all costs! On the up-side, AT&T provided a communications center that very easily handles faxes, data transfers (BBS's etc, with the aid of QModem) and - if you want to keep your computer running- even voice-mail.
Now St Stephen's has another Win95 machine- this one (as it boldly says on the splash-board) with the Internet Explorer! Up to now, I've had very little use for the communications features; the modem worked fine on those automatic call-out and register routines that many programs now feature.
Then there was that Fax! I even used Works to generate the thing; then set in motion the "send" routine. Guess what? "General Protection Fault!" Restart your machine.
Details on the error pointed to- the Internet Explorer! What? What's that got to do with sending a Fax?
I tried to seek out a way to configure the thing to allow the fax. Every time it pointed to making a call to the Microsoft Network! (Or if you already have an Internet Provider, connecting to that.) There may be a way around this, but I haven't found it. And I'm not about to pay Microsoft to find out!
The Internet Explorer is not really integral to Win95; it's simply that Microsoft has channeled its applications to demand the Explorer_ and beyond that_ a subscription to the MS Network (unless you're already deep enough into the Internet to have a Provider).
Fact is, I can install independent software to take care of my fax and BBS needs on the machine. Most of it does more than I really want done! I think I'll settle for DOS-based (Win-free!) BitFax, which still sends and receives from ALL my applications without invoking MS. And DOS-based QModem (still more reliable than the Win95 version) for general communication. Internet browser? Not on the church machine; I don't feature paying 5-to-8 cents-a-minute to the local phone company for the luxury of spending the time. After all, we're not making money on it!
As to the Justice Department? Go for it, guys! Bill is pulling one of the larger scams of the century- whether this one or the next!
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Review of Fastmove! 2.0 on CD
138 Indiana St
Rochester NY 14509
System Test on: (I got it used, added, modified some)
IBM Clone (built from parts) 486DX4-100, 1 GB Hard Drive divided into C and D drives, 4X CD Rom Drive, 16MB Ram, SVGA Video - 1MB video ram used at 256 color or 64K color, 3.5" drive and 5.25" floppy drives, Tape Back-Up Drive (no tapes available to try), Zip Drive on Parallel Port (was in use elsewhere), Sound Blaster 16 Sound Card, Mouse, Windows 3.1 (Dual Booted with OS/2)
Review of Fastmove! 2.0 on CD from Touchstone (For January 1998)
Will work on: "Windows 3.1, Windows 95, DOS in Remote mode only."
Requires: 640K Ram in DOS Remote operation.
Hard DIsk Space: 2.5 mb for Windows maximum for the program.
On Install, into Windows 3.1 I found that you had to put something into the "company" name, or it would not let you go on. You could not leave it blank.
I installed to my "D" drive, as that is where I have the most space left. It installed in a few minutes, with no problems. There is a built-in uninstaller icon.
On loading you can register on-line, it will call the BBS of Touchstone.
The virus checker reported it was over 90 days old, wanted to call for a new pattern file.
Current file on the disk was from 1/1/97 You can call (714) 969-0688.
It works with Touchstone's PC-Cillin, which is needed to remove viruses found.
(It is a Wildcat BBS - Directions of how to do that are on-screen.)
Virus Checking is built in. As I have removed, I hope, all viruses , none were found.
There is a "main screen" - for first time users, and most functions
Also a ZipSync for Zip or other removable drives, lets you look for a file.
And if you do the same procedure many times, there is a button leading you to the last 20 file transfers, so you can go back and do it again.
Main leads you to FastMove Local, which shows the current drive, all folders (directories) and on the right, the contents which are on the removable media (in this case, the floppy drive A: 3.5 inch) The removable media files are compared to the ones on the main disk, and if there is a difference, that is noted, so you can compare dates and sizes,
You can transfer (update) your files in either direction. File sorting by name, type, size, and date, and overwriting protection are included.
You can select which drive you are transferring to or from on the left and right sides of your screen, and if there is no corresponding file by that name, it shows as a blank line, which you can ignore, or transfer the missing file to that drive.
The program lets you use any drive found on the system including on parallel and serial ports, and reports what it finds. It lets you keep track of what you have done.
You can change and create directories, FInd out how much space is on your drives, and check file attributes.
It seems to be a good file backup manager and synchronizer.
I could not check how it works over a network, which it is supposed to be capable of.
The box says it supports in Windows 95 mode, long file names, as well as backwards compatablity to DOS, direct file transfers over parallel and serial cables. I hope to test some of that in the future.
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(newsletter article, or 'filler' bytes)
by Ken Fermoyle
Three Developments Move Micro Performance to New Plateau. Since the debut of Windows 95 we have seen incremental, if rapidly evolving, performance improvements in hardware. Now, three almost simultaneous developments promise to increase microcomputer performance dramatically. Most publicized: powerful new chips (200MHz and faster) that double (Intel and AMD) or quadruple (Cyrix) Level 2 (L2) cache size. Less well reported to date are the new Ultra hard drives that offer 10ms seek time and doubled transfer rates, and Synchronous Dynamic RAM (SDRAM) memory chips that far surpass EDO chips. Read on, for more on performance developments. If you're planning to upgrade or buy a new system, be sure you get a motherboard with the Intel TX (for Pentium MMX) or LX (for Pentium II) chipsets, both of which support these new features. SDRAM memory comes in the form of DIMMs (double inline memory modules) instead of the SIMMs (singte inline memory modules) we have become familiar with in recent years. Pentium II's Future Includes 400-MHz and Low-Cost Versions
Intel plans for 1988 include 350- and 400-MHz Pentium II processors and low-cost versions aimed at computer systems selling for $1000 or less. The processor for the low-cost systems will run at 266 MHz, but will not have an integrated L2 cache, reported InfoWorld Electric (infoworld.com, 11/7/97). Low- power 333- and 266-MHz chips (code named Deschutes) will be offered for desktop and notebook computers respectively in March or April, and a 300-MHz Pentium II with integrated L2 cache will come toward the end of 1998.No-Cache, Lower-Performance Chip Aimed at AMD, Cyrix.
The 266 Pentium II chip without L2 cache "is designed to head off competition from Advanced Micro Devices and Cyrix Socket 7 processors," according to TechWire (techweb.com, 11/6/97). They will also offer slower performance than chips with L2 cache; performance loss estimates range from under 10 to 15%. Intel Has Reason to Launch Preemptive Strike
Chips from both AMD and Cyrix outperformed equivalent Intel Pentium II chips in SYSmark32 tests conducted by Computer Retailer Week (10/6/97). The article also took pains "to dispel the myths about the incompatibility of non-Intel processors.The only incompatibility that now exists is in the hardware, and this was created by Intel's own hand." Intel's proprietary Slot One motherboard design is not compatible with the ZIF (zero insertion force) Socket 7 architecture common today. This actually provides excellent upgrade opportunities for the Socket 7-compatible chips in P55C motherboards that now house slower processors. Intel's proprietary design locks it out of this market, leaving it to AMD and Cyrix.
On the other hand, Intel's move leaves no room in the OEM market for AMD and Cyrix with vendors who opt for Slot One architecture, which Intel reportedly will not license to other chip makers. Home Networks Via Existing Phone Lines?
"Separate efforts emerged last week to create home networks based on existing telephone lines within the house," according to Electronic Engineering Times (11/10/97). Microsoft combined with Tut Systems "to push a 1.3-Mbit/second version of Ethernet rapidly into the consumer PC market next year." The article also covered details of technology by Epigram, a Silicon Valley startup, that is described as "algorithms akin to those used in digital-subscriber-line technology."
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Confused by Graphics Formats?
Here Are Some Basic Answers
by Ken Fermoyle
Judging by questions I'm asked regularly, many computer users don't really understand the differences between vector (or object-oriented) images produced by graphics draw programs and bit-mapped (raster) images produced by paint programs. The differences are significant, and knowledge of what they are will help you choose the best tool for a given graphics task. First, a few basic definitions are in order.
Draw programs use mathematical expressions to create objects (lines, curves, circles, squares, etc.) that make up the drawing. Paint programs create an image dot by dot, by turning the pixels that represent each dot on or off. When you draw a line in a program such as Corel Draw, for example, you create a mathematical formula that describes that line and its location. When you draw a line in any paint program, you create a series of dots that make up the line. Each method has advantages and disadvantages. Draw images are resolution-independent; because of the way they are described, objects are printed at the resolution of the output device, be it a 300-dpi (dots per inch) laser printer or a 1270-dpi imagesetter. Moreover, they can be made smaller or larger without affecting their quality and sharpness. Paint images are created at a given resolution that can't be changed. So an image created at 72- or 300- dpi will print only at that resolution even if the output device is capable of 1270-dpi or more. Nor can they be made much larger or smaller than originally painted. Blow them up much and paint images become coarse, with obvious "jaggies." Reduce them significantly and the dots merge, making images muddy and indistinct. Paint image file sizes tend to be much larger than draw image files, though introduction of compressed image formats such as JPEG and GIF in recent years has reduced this imbalance to some degree. To illustrate the size differences, I saved an identical piece of art in several formats; here are their respective sizes: CGM, 20KB; JPEG, 45KB; TIFF, 46KB; BMP 8,974KB! CGM (Computer Graphic Metafile) is a draw or vector format; the others are bit-mapped formats. Metafile formats such as CGM, WMF, EPS and PostScript basically use draw techniques to create images, but bit-mapped fills can be added to to add richness. Programs like Corel Draw and Xara or Adobe Illustrator allow image layering to produce illustration-quality images. All this made it a no-brainer for desktop publishers to select draw art whenever possible, especially back in the 1980s when much of the paint clip art available was in PCX, native format of Zsoft's PC Paintbrush.
It usually was quite low in resolution: 150 and even 72 dpi (the latter to match screen resolution). Many of us preferred the CGM format or, if using a PostScript device, EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) graphics-native or proprietary format of Adobe Illustrator, first of the high-end illustration graphics program. When scanners began gaining popularity, the TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) bit-mapped format developed by Aldus, Microsoft and others specifically for capturing scanned images, was used widely. Digital cameras will further popularize bit-mapped formats, and we can only hope that a standard will emerge from the many proprietary formats now used. Biggest boost to bit-mapped graphics, however, has been the World Wide Web, which requires bit-mapped images, usually .JPG (short for JPEG, Joint Photographic Experts Group) or .GIF (Graphics Interchange Format). Both formats greatly compress the size of bit-mapped files; .JPG files may be 20 times smaller than the original image, but images may lose something in the translation. Graphics professionals may argue that this information is too simplistic, but space is limited and I believe it does cover the basics. Perhaps your group has several members with wide graphics experience and they could provide more detailed insight into different facets of computer graphics in future meetings.
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Prehistoric DTP, or publishing in the Stone Age...
by Ken Fermoyle, TUG-NET
While preparing to start a desktop publishing (DTP) SIG recently within my home user group (Technical & User Group Network, or TUG-NET, San Fernando Valley, Calif.), I ran across material that brought some chuckles, and memories. It took me back to the Stone Age of producing print material with very early microcomputers, before the term "desktop publishing" was coined. And even earlier.
__ That prompted this little article, which I share in the hope that you also might find it amusing, and that it might trigger memories of some of the more outrageous work-arounds you used back in the days when computers were less sophisticated. I feel also that it makes a good introduction for me and this new column, helping you "know" the faceless writer to some small degree
__ Back in the '70s and early '80s, I produced newsletters and such using three typewriters: an old Olympic portable with Elite type, an IBM electric with proportional type (pre-Selectric, but I forget the model) and another machine with big Orator type. The latter normally was used for speeches, but I used it for headlines. Doing a typical newsletter involved switching a page from one typewriter to another frequently--and lots of WhiteOut!
__ Then came microcomputers. Wow, what progress. Or was it? Changing fonts and type sizes wasn't a whole lot easier than with my old 3-typewriter setup. During user group meetings then, we had many discussions about utilities that made it possible to do such fancy things as bolding and italics. Wonder of wonders.
__ Doing two columns on a page was the Holy Grail we pursued, and you may not believe how I finally accomplished it. But I'll tell you anyway.
__ A full-page-width head ran at top, under the masthead. (I had cheated on that; had a friendly typesetter do it for me and make numerous repro copies, which I pasted on by hand.) Below the head I started entering the lead story, also full width, or two columns. I did about the first five or six lines like that, but then came the tricky part.
__ I had set the tabs so that I could type a line that went halfway across the page, the width of the left column. Then I would hit the tab key and go to where the second (right-hand) column started.
__ So, when I got to where I wanted to start the two columns, I did the first line of the head for story #2 in bold caps, hit the tab key, and wrote the next line for lead story. I continued that process all the way down the page: first a line for story #2, tab, and another line for the lead story.
__ I even had column 2, the lead story, justified! Column 1 was ragged right, but not terribly so. Took a lot of backing and filling to accomplish that.
__ The kicker is that I didn't write the stories in advance and then copy them into place; I made 'em up as I went along. It was one of my finest hours, folks! Of course, everybody else thought I was nuts. "Why didn't you just type the stuff up in single columns and paste 'em in place?" they asked.
__ Why, indeed? Like the man said about the mountain: it was there, a challenge not to be ignored.
__ Then came things like the 0.7 Beta version of Ventura Publisher, accompanied by a couple of dozen poorly-copied pages which eventually would grow to a full-fledged User Manual. That was another challenge for a novice software tester. Now we have $75 DTP programs that are astoundingly powerful. And $500 software that can do what used to require teams of professionals and machines costing many, many thousands of dollars.
But I'm glad I was around during the Stone Age. It wasn't always easy, but it was fun.
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