Rochester Computer Club Monitor - January 1998

Table of Contents

  1. President Column
    • J. Joseph Pia
  2. Secretary Notes
    • Bill Wells
  3. In The Library
    • Geryll Norriss
  4. SIG's & New Users Group
    • John McMillan
  5. Creata Card Gold
    • Donna Jestel
  1. Drive Copy
    • Peter Moore
  2. Corel Arcade Mania
    • Stuart Becktell
  3. Webtricity
    • Frank Howden
  4. Scanner Sizzle as Prices Plummet
    • Ken Fermoyle (AOL UGF)
  5. Program Committee Survey
    • Tom Bowllan
  6. Membership Application (paper version)

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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 use.

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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

Help Hours: 9AM to 4PM [m] 6PM to 9PM [l] Both [']

Basic Telecommunication
Charles Sumner
C Compilers
Tom Walters
d BASE Applications Programming
Warren Ganter
DeskTop Publishing
Dick Comegys
DOS Operations
Warren Ganter
File Management (Housekeeping)
Warren Ganter
Tom Walters
GEOS (Ensemble / NewDeal Office)
Dick Comegys
Imaging Operations
Warren Ganter
Internet / Netscape
Tom Walters
Phone Book
Charles Sumner
Word Perfect
Charles Sumner
Word Perfect
Geryll Norriss
HELP Writing reviews for the club newsletter
Geryll Norriss
HELP Writing reviews for the club newsletter
Norma Leone
HELP Writing reviews for the club newsletter
Sam Scozzari
(315) 524-4411

President Column

To all the people who voted for me and to Dr. Jean Bradt who started my "campaign" for the presidency of the club many thanks. Their support is greatly appreciated.
We all also owe Marty Becktell a whole bushel of thanks for holding forth as president for the last two years. When you see him, shake Marty's hand and tell him how much you appreciated his efforts. He deserves our thanks.
In my presentation at nomination time I made three points, which I review here:

1. Mutual Aid Society

We are now a mutual aid society. We help each other as much as we can. We request help from the experts among us when we need it. But no longer do we expect those gurus, whose knowledge we respect and need, to do administrative work or tend to the bureaucratic details as we used to ask of them. We will take care of those matters and ask for help from the content experts as we need it. They will have an easier time of it, we hope, and be able to help out with their specialized knowledge and skill when we really need it.

2. Outreach

Privileged as we are by income and education, we have an obligation, it seems to me, to reach to those outside our circle. We can bring help to people learning new computer skills. The major audiences are (1) young people in schools and in after-school programs and (2) older people who want to be part of the technological wave sweeping us all.
We probably don't know how to do this kind of thing right now, but we will be able to figure out when we put our minds to it. People who are interested should let us know. We'll work at getting a subcommittee or subgroup started.

3. Marketing the Club

Our membership needs to grow. We can develop and use several approaches, including making presentations to other organizations.
As you might imagine, other ideas will surface from time to time. It will be a pleasure to keep you informed of them and to solicit your support and, where appropriate, your participation.
I look forward to working with you all in the coming year.

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Secretary Notes


Librarian GERYLL NORRISS opened Help's Half Hour by asking someone to pose a question. It happened and in the basic premise of our club, which is member helping member, a dialog ensued and answers came back and forth within the group. Importantly, it was disclosed that when upgrading be aware that even though every component may accept the changes your CPU may not. Also take great care in selecting and buying components without checking quality. Pres. MARTY BECKTELL arrived and took over. Following the same theme he emphasized not upgrading without having a clear idea what you are doing now and give added thought to whether or not it is necessary to upgrade at all.
Program Chair TOM BOWLLAN introduced JUSTIN E. ZIEMNIAK, representing COMPUTER LINK Magazine, Rochester's One & Only Computer Resource Guide.
JUSTIN saw a need for a local informative, educational CPU magazine and as founder and idea man convinced Millennium Publishing, Inc. to publish. They plan on expanding throughout western New York. They also will welcome and accept suggestions and articles. If enough interest is shown, for example, they might devote space to RCC for a short piece covering presentations given at our Program Meetings. COMPUTER LINK MAGAZINE is a monthly issue that's used as a guide and a source of information to computer users in the Rochester area. For $17.00 it can be mailed to your home or office. Or it is available FREE at local outlets such as Wegman's Markets. Look for it!
In light of our uncertain BBS status CHARLES SUMNER offered information on prospective BBS's for use by RCC members as follows:
New York On-Line, 227-6966. Sysop: BOB FRANK, voice 225-2097; Has set up RCC file area, RCC public discussion and private message areas.
Allows one hour per day. Will add E-Mail. Fidonet 1:2613/364
Enviro-Link, 359-0008. Sysop: WAYNE HOWARD, voice 359-0782; Has operational E-Mail now. Will set up whatever areas are wanted.
Averages 3 users per day; allows one hour per day, but only 20 minutes between 8 A.M. and 5 P.M. Fidonet 1:2613/208
Knight Moves, 865-8856, 865-2106. 865-8843 etc, (even more if you pay.) Fidonet. E-Mail only for paid users.
General: No attachments allowed through Gateway. Gateway is 1:2613/10. If an alias is desired by frequent Gateway users, apply to JOHN ROOKER, 1:2613/229.
The yearly business of nominating and electing officers was next and Pres. MARTY BECKTELL turned the proceedings over to Nominating Chair GERYLL NORRISS. The slate of officers up for election was written on the blackboard in large letters and read as follows:
  • President MARTY BECKTELL
  • Vice President FRANK HOWDEN
  • Treasurer STEVE STAUB
  • Secretary BILL WELLS
  • GERYLL NORRISS 3yr. term
  • MEL PARISH 2yr. term
  • LARILYN BAUER 1yr.term
The floor was opened for additional candidates and JEAN BRADT nominated JOE PIA for the office of President. It was seconded by BILL WELLS and CHARLES SUMNER.
As the only contested office GERYLL asked both MARTY and JOE to give a short talk on their qualifications and aims, which they did. The other officers and members-at-large present spoke briefly and we proceeded to the process of voting. An inventive and novel method of secret balloting was devised by GERYLL, Every member received a ticket such as used for awarding of prizes and was asked to simply write the initial or name of their choice on the blank side and throw it into the container passed around. A group consisting of GERYLL NORRISS, TONY LEONE, KAREN POLLARD and BILL WELLS left the room to count the ballots. After we were sure the results were correct MARTY BECKTELL and JOE PIA were called out of the meeting room and told the outcome.
The final tally was as follows:
  1. JOE PIA 39
Pres. elect JOE PIA's first statement was to ask for a round of applause and appreciation for MARTY BECKTELL's dedication and work during his two terms at the helm. The response was immediate and warm. My hope is that he will remain active and run again for some future office.
The issue of term limits was approved by the Executive Board at the last Planning Meeting for presentation to the membership. Pres. MARTY BECKTELL opened debate on the subject and after discussion a vote was called and a majority voted against so that issue was put to rest for the time being.
An effort was made to change the names of the newsletter and BBS but after an extended period of confusion a motion was made and seconded to table both for future consideration.
Our seemingly tireless, though perhaps breathless, Nominating Chair GERYLL NORRISS handled the ins and outs of the evenings voting with just enough authority and toughness.
Her adeptness and use of the right word or phrase kept a flow and continuity to the proceedings. It was a masterful job well done.
Bill Wells Sec'ty

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IN THE LIBRARY - by Geryll Norriss

Well, we've survived the election and, hopefully, have begun to renew our energies for the New Year. Congratulations to the newly elected officers: LARILYN BAUER, MEL PARRISH, GERYLL NORRISS, STEVE STAUB, BILL WELLS, FRANK HOWDEN and JOE PIA. Almost every candidate called for the involvement of every member in the ongoing work of the club; there has been much discussion of late on the need for input from every skill level. Let's all work hard to take the concept from campaign chatter to reality!
Our out-going officers deserve far more than a round of applause and a handshake. IRWIN WIENER, TONY LEONE and MARTY BECKTELL gave their time, energy and hard work to the RCC and we're the better for their commitment. 1997 was a year of change in both structure and scope --- most of it positive, some of it confusing, but all of it interesting. Sure, there were some decided rough spots, but in hindsight I believe we'll recognize how productive this past year really was. Post-game quarterbacking is so easy to do; sometimes we need to view the Whole Picture from the perspective of time. Here I am using a sports analogy when the more appropriate metaphor would be conception (the Frog/PC3 merger), gestation, a truly intense labor and a tough delivery. Midwifery is a difficult and often thankless job. My point is that despite the pain, the baby's healthy.
New metaphor for 1998. JOE PIA is taking the helm of a ship with a full and able crew. He's inherited innovative navigational maps and tools to chart a course chosen by the membership. We wish him well.
Since I'm indulging in personal opinion following recent object templates, I'll oblige myself further by presenting a partial wish list for the New Year:
MARTY BECKTELL, will you please do what no other Frog/PC3 past-President has done and remain involved? I respect that burn-out is a very real thing and I wouldn't blame you a bit for luxuriating in some deserved free time, but you are still needed by this group. Many of us admire your creative energy, encouragement, technical skill and willingness to "get your hands dirty." You directly taught me that in the world of computers, the only way to learn is by doing even when the risks loomed scarify. Remember the time I actually opened up my computer and switched the A and B drives? Three screwdrivers and some ripe vocabulary later I attained success. Now, it would have been far easier for you to do the work yourself rather than coach me through it, but the far richer lesson was the knowledge and confidence you encouraged this non-techie to achieve. I learned so much more than just a little hardware surgery. Please don't be a stranger.
IRWIN WIENER just passed along to me a treasure box of PC3 history. Documents, correspondence, notes, budgets, etc. Hopefully a similar Frog collection exists. I wish for one or two members to take on the project of organizing and archiving our separate and combined histories for the Library. No technical computer skill is necessary. If you don't already have basic database and word processing experience, you'll learn while doing. Access to a scanner might be nice, but that can always be out soured. It's a perfect opportunity to provide a service to the club without becoming enmeshed in politics or suffering "committee-itis."
I wish to see the ever-unflagging STEVE STAUB accumulate an honest-to-goodness staff for The Monitor. Steve isn't a whiner, folks; he'll keep his nose to the grindstone until the end is flattened (!), but he needs assistance. Again, no experience or tech skills required. Volunteer as a master DTP specialist or as an apprentice to Editor STAUB. You'll learn a lot and as President JOE PIA promises, "have fun doing it."
As JEFF MEHR stressed at the December meeting, we need to work toward better intra-group communications this year. If you aren't a member of the Internet SIG, you may not know that SIG leader TOM WALTERS and his group have developed an enviable model for connection (no pun intended). We can get this thing to gel with regard to the larger group. Check with TOM on the exciting things going on in cyber space for every skill level. Likewise, talk with CHARLES SUMNER to express your opinions on the BBS situation and to make clear your expectations. If you do not voice your needs, they will not be known. Our new Program Chair TOM BOWLLAN is working on all kinds of presentations including mini-seminars on various aspects of telecommunications. All the above gentlemen are very approachable and really do want your input.
KAREN ("K.P.") POLLARD will be re-organizing the Membership Committee in 1998. I wish for her a staff which will reflect the diversity of our membership. She's planning to break down the committee into smaller, specifically defined modules and she'll need people willing to take on various assignments from A-Z, literally. Some of these jobs will be on-going and some finite. Got some ideas? Some energy to donate to your club? Of course, you do!
My last big wish for 1998 is that the factional nit-picking be laid to rest. Of course that's idealistic, but my expectations really are that high. I hope that the energy generated by the desire for change can now be channeled into positive and productive actions/solutions. In other words, please step up to the plate. We need you.
Stay in touch!

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New User Group Meeting - Dec. 2, 1997 by John McMillan

On December 2nd, 14 people took time out from Christmas shopping to attend the new users meeting at Henrietta Media Play. Peter Moore was there to answer questions from one and all.
Several people had questions about making mail labels. One was using Mail List within Approach, while another used mail merge within Windows 95 and Word for Windows. Peter had limited experience with either package but pointed out that most software packages are written for fixed field sizes and that the data might exceed the allowed field size. He suggested creating a report (within Approach) which might allow larger field sizes. He generalized about the techniques of merging an address file with another file, usually a form letter, and recommended trying with a simple address file of name, address, city etc. separated by tabs. The merge process should allow you to indicate which fields you want to extract from the address file and merge with the other file. He stressed the need for uniformity in the definition of the address file. e.g. If anyone has a two line address (such as an apartment number or department name), all records must contain those fields thought the data may be blank.
The next question concerned getting part of a software package or suite, specifically how to get Outlook without the whole Office suite.
Pete said to download Internet Explorer version 4 which comes with Outlook express, a stripped down version of Outlook or look for one of the many other programs which contain the same functions such as Lotus Organizer. If that was too expensive he felt there were shareware alternatives available at a lower price.
The discussion turned to marketing techniques used by communication service providers. Peter said that while providers hope to snare customers by giving free disks of software, there is no legal or moral obligation to subscribe to someone who does. He also pointed out that Internet Explorer 4 was available on CD for about $30. This might be an advantage for those who have no connection to the net or a very slow modem since the entire download requires about 24 megabytes of hard disk. In addition to net browsing, Internet Explorer 4 includes Outlook Express, HTML editing, some multimedia stuff and perhaps a half dozen other features though it is possible to opt for a partial setup which will take less space. It can also be downloaded free: something which could be done overnight especially if you have a Internet connection that hangs up after a span of inactivity. Peter indicated that the primary reason for version 4 was to make your desktop work more like the Internet. Because version 4 is highly configurable you could use as much or as little as you desire. He mentioned that Microsoft had distributed two beta versions or Internet Explorer 4 and warned that if you had either on your system, it should be completely eradicated before loading the current version. Replacing versions 2 or 3 did not have the same potential problems. Peter went on to say that the majority of web sites are optimized for Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator and most providers offer either or both free, so he saw no reason to buy some other browser or to run multiple browsers at the same time though that is possible.
In response to other questions Peter went on to describe the Internet as a huge network of computers; mainframes, Unix computers and PC's (both compatibles and MAC's). One of the many things available on the Internet is the World Wide Web. Easynet and various browsers merely connect you to the World Wide Web. AOL, Compuserve and Prodigy can connect you to the web but their primary reason for existence was to provide proprietary on line service such as stock quotes, sports scores and other information which might not be available on the web. If you do not need the proprietary services, Easynet would probably give better service than AOL which historically has had many problems with unavailability and disconnects. He pointed out that the Windows 95 version of AOL is too big to fit on a floppy disk so the freebies you receive in the mail or with your newspaper are for use with Windows 3.1. It was an easy migration to explaining the techniques and generalities of various WWW search engines.
For the balance of an hour plus Peter stayed to answer questions about both hardware and software, some general and some quite specific. Rather than attempt to detail them all here, I would recommend that you stop in at a future meeting where there is always something to learn.
Now in its second year, the group averages over 12 members per meeting with more than 30 % attending for the 1st time. We meet the first Tuesday of the month at 6:30 at the Henrietta Media Play store. When Peter finishes about 7:30, John McMillan is available to answer basic, non hardware questions.

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Creata Card Gold by Donna Jestel

I installed my first program! Roger's computer didn't blow up and I actually completed the process without any "abort, retry, fails". My history with his computer is not a happy one.
Roger asked me to try installing and using "Creata Card Gold" so I could do an evaluation from an "anyone could do it" stand point. Micrografx did a wonderful job of telling a novice what to do next. I used the book but mostly followed their on screen directions which were very simple to follow.
Once the program was installed I found myself in a "shop" with options to choose cards, invitations, awards/certificates, business cards, stationary, envelopes, labels, gift tags and more. In each selection you are offered the options to creatively change both picture and script, or just leave it as it is. Everything was easily figured out by reading the screen and all of that is in big colorful "anyone can understand this" script and icons. Just point and click. I pointed and clicked my way through a lot of Roger's ink and paper. (He hadn't given me the good paper and colored ink yet).
When you design a card you can either browse through categories you choose in the browse option or select the specific holiday or subject. The computer then shows you groups of card fronts. You click on the one you are interested in and get a close up. At this point this user friendly program lets you point and click on seeing the front, inside left, inside right or back of the card, all of which you can easily change to personalize it as crazily as you'd like. You can change pictures using their clip art, art designs, or access photos or other clip art programs. I have used their materials but have not imported from other files yet.(There is still some "I am sure I am going to blow up this computer" fear!) While exploring this program I created some pretty weird stuff but also some really nice things. I am sure the recipients of my efforts are saving their cards for posterity!
Once I learned some control Roger let me have some good paper and colored ink making it even more fun! I think families could truly enjoy this program. Most children are far more computer literate than I.(It does have a kid lock so you can control some of the more risqu‚ stuff). Roger thought we could save some money by making our own cards. You probably can, but I find I am sending more cards than I ever did before so our postage is higher. The benefit is that our families are actually getting correspondence. Not something we are famous for.
Another option in Creata Card is the calendar and address book. It will alert you to send a card for whatever event you ask, for whomever you enter. You also have the option to send the card email or to American Greetings and they will print and mail your card. I have not used either of those options yet. The instructions for setting up the printer and printing are amazingly user friendly. It even shows you a little film on how to put the paper back in the printer to print both sides. Folding instructions are also given.
I now know the real reason Roger asked me to do this. This program would be even more fun with a better printer and a faster computer. It seems someone named Roger has been asking for those and NOW I am beginning to see why.
Creata Card Gold requires Windows '95 and 16 megs of RAM are recommended.

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Drive Copy - by Peter Moore

author: Peter Moore (716) 235-8746
Power Quest's DriveCopy 1.01 is a handy little one-trick pony of a system utility. It only does one thing, but it does that quite adequately, thank you. Its whole reason for existence is to assist those thousands of good consumers who have been flocking down to CompUSA to scarf up those hot deals on honking big hard disks. Their dilemma: how to get the contents of their present hard disks to the newly-purchased storage monster, intact. Enter DriveCopy, which copies the old disk to the new disk, multiple partitions and all. Cool.


DriveCopy requires a DOS or Windows/Win95 PC with at least a 386SX, 8 megs of RAM, VGA video, and a 3.5" 1.44-meg floppy drive.


I tested DriveCopy on a Pentium 120-powered Windows 95 PC clone, with a 1.2-gigabyte hard disk, which I copied intact onto another 1.2-gig drive.


This program doesn't exactly get installed. It comes on a single 1.44-meg floppy diskette. You boot to a DOS prompt, then switch to drive A: and type PQDC to start the text-mode program. The most important part of the "installation" is to physically switch your original hard disk to drive D: and connect the new drive as drive C:. This is EXTREMELY important, because once you start this program, it assumes that you want your new drive to be drive C:, and that you'll want to boot from it when you're done. If you get the drives wrong, you'll be copying the new, blank drive onto your old, full drive. For the record, this would be a bad thing.


To install DriveCopy is to operate it. The most important thing about operating DriveCopy is to bring a good book. Or do it someplace where there's a TV. I didn't time how long it took to copy the 1.2-gig drive, which was anyway only about a quarter full, but it was certainly long enough that you wouldn't want to just sit and watch the histogram display inch from left to right as progress progressively progresses.


DriveCopy comes with a slender 40ish-page manual, which covers setting up and running the utility in about the first 15 pages. The rest of the booklet is appendix-type info about hard drive jumpers, boot diskettes, and such-like. Perfectly adequate for such a single-minded piece of software.


Support is covered in Appendix C; all three pages. The first two have spaces for you to fill in lots of information about your hardware and software, so you can chat knowledgeably to the tech support geeks. If you call Monday to Friday between 8:00 and 5:00 Mountain Time, anyhow. Don't bother having a problem on the weekend. Of course, there's a BBS, a fax number, a web site, and a snail-mail address.


DriveCopy is a very limited subset of the powerful functionality found in Power Quest's main product, Partition Magic. It does its one trick pretty well, assuming that you only need to copy one drive to another drive in the same machine. There are a few things I wish it did that it doesn't do, like write a image file, which you could recopy repeatedly; or store such a image on a network drive, but we won't go into that. There are programs that do all that and more, but most of them are somewhat pricy. DriveCopy is more like $29. Less function, less money. There's an engaging symmetry here. Didja just buy a whopping big hard disk? Wanna make it look just like your old hard disk, only way bigger? Plunk down your $29 and have at it. Ain't technology great?

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Corel Arcade Mania - by Stuart Becktell

Arcade Mania is made up of 3 programs that range from pretty fun to pretty stupid.

The Games:

All of the games were fun for a while, but I think that many people would not all of the games because they aren't trying to be, but they are closer to parody's then real games.

My favorite game was Lunar Fox

You are police officer in the near future, and tanks have become common place. You are given orders by a woman with a Russian accent (she happens to be in each game). You drive the tank around an try and destroy the bad guys. There is a radar in the lower left corner, and the baddies are red dots. Next to it is a bar that says your shields and how fast your throttle can go. The graphics are okay, pretty good for the standards in '95(that is when it was made.) The buildings are grayish, and the "3-D terrain", which is brownish, are kinda cheesy, but are okay for a low budget game. The AI is great, if you shot at an area that they are going towards, the stop and do go through a detour, which tricks you the first time, since you are sending lots of shells towards them, and then not see that they are shooting at you. I found it hard when you were shooting to see what the bad guy was doing since you follow the flight of the rocket. In some other levels, the tanks were in packs, so you were pounding the one guy, not notice he was dead, and then be hit by the other guy.

In Nova 3

You are shooting droids who have taken over a city in space. This one was hard because it was a 2-D playing field, and the robots were moving so fast you couldn't get the three shots that you needed to shoot them with out in time. The graphics were pretty good, but it could have used some more robots. Also, when I finished the first level, I couldn't get to the latter ones, so this is probably an incomplete review of the one game.


is just Pong with a face lift an, this is my least favorite game, and since many of you have played Pong or something like it I won't got into the specs. The one problem with the game is that the paddle shoots to the left, not up, and it also is very sensitive, press the arrows an you get to the left, then the right, and can not get to the middle. Someone at a games magazine(it was either PC Games or Computer Gaming World) said that one thing good about E3 was that Corel was not making any games, I somewhat agree and disagree. I probably will play the game again, but it may turn into another, its fun, but NASCAR 2 is better. If Corel made more original games, they would be better, but being original is ten times harder then a few years ago since so many game companies are coming and going.

System Requirements:

PC 486-66 DX2, Win 3.1, MS-DOS 5 or later, 8 MB or RAM, 2x CD-ROM, SVGA card that can handle 256 colors at 640 by 480, and a sound card is recommended.

Even Gurus Get the Blues Part II

If you went to the October meeting, you say me have many problems with my computer. Here is the full story. On Wednesday I took a mental health day to get some more sleep, after spending a hours trying to get the mouse port to work, I decide that it most be terminal and return it to Microworx to get a new one. After spending a few days trying getting the computer back up and checking my e-mail and finding I only have 81 new messages, I think all is done. Then Tom Walters, comes over and the same thing happens, after a day of working, we get it to work, one thing I can say now, without the all mighty mouse, my life would be hell. My speakers suddenly have to be turned up almost all of the way to be heard, my game port is screwed up, so I need a new sound card (that is a good thing.) Also my network card doesn't work, after many hours of work, I stop working on it and play, you guessed it, NASCAR 2. Last Friday, in about 5 minutes I get the whole thing fixed. Now I go to the computer show, talk to Microworx about getting some more RAM, hoping that I can get 64 in DIMMs, everything goes fine until they say, oh yeah, we tested the motherboard, nothing was wrong.

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Webtricity from Micrographix Inc.

Man. List $229, Man. dis. to RCC $129

Review by Frank Howden

c 1997 by F. D. Howden

Webtricity is a multifaceted program aimed at allowing the average user create web pages without Java, C++, or any other language. All web pages are created in a graphical mode and transformed by one of the modules into html. Which brings us to the first salient feature of this program, it comes with two (2) CD-ROMs; the first, containing All modules plus 250 fonts, the second containing 45,000 images about 50% clip art and 50% photos. The minimum system requirements are 486DX, Windows 95, or Windows NT 3.51, 8 MB RAM (16 recommended,) Hard Drive: Webtricity 173MB (min install 98MB,) Designer 7 9MB, QuickSilver 3, 25MB, Picture Publisher 7 50MB, and Simply 3D 31MB. It was installed (flawlessly) and use with aplomb on a Pentium I, 100mHz, with SVGA, and an extra 840MB Hard Drive.
The package also contains two (2) manuals, the first of about 800 pages [there are no page numbers] contains printouts of all art work (Te Deum, laudamus!), the second contains detailed tutorials for each of the modules. Here, this reviewer must confess a deep and abiding prejudice against the tutorial form of documentation; yet he found these tutorials helpful and informative without exception. They were step-by-step detailed to an extent just short of explaining that the "any key" is not a key labeled "any" and that the little 'shelf' that comes out when one presses the button on the front of the computer is not a 'coffee cup holder.' Specifically, they gave direction that in- cluded statements like "before you 'click' on 'X' make sure that 'Y' is turned off." All these steps allowed this reviewer to construct every image in the tutorials with a minimum of mistakes. It also resulted in a certain inner confidence about constructing other projects. These will be detailed in the descriptions of each module (infera.)

The Modules:

The modules themselves are extremely useful, without any reference to the web. Media Manager allows one to use the clip art provided, use other clip art [including scanned images,] and integrate these desperate resources into a whole. It allows the other modules to function together so that pictures and clip-art can be seamlessly integrated into one image. That is to say that you can do the kind of combinations seen in Who Killed Roger Rabbit on your own machine. Granted that constructing 10,000 frames is not advisable using this program, you could construct, say, a cartoon character waving a pointer within a 'classical art work' (Designer - q.v., infera) You are also provided with numerous 'heads' into which 'expressions' (e.g. - eyes, nose and mouth) can be transported separately.
Picture Publisher provides awe inspiring photo editing and image creating, at least by this reviewer's standards. He found it easy to outline a photo image (by pixels) and move it to construct the kind of mis-information photo published in Scientific American. For those who do not wish to read this excellent article, it is quite possible to construct seamless photographs of a [any] president [beginning with George Washington] shaking hands with Hitler, or Archbishop Desmond Tutu in a KKK robe, or any thing else. While responsible persons would hope no readers would construct such images (save for amusement,) the examples show the power of this program. Ex.: You love the picture of your granddaughter doing 'X,' but hate her expression. Just remove her head from 'Y' and past it seamlessly on her doing 'X.' Is this truth or falsity? You decide; meanwhile, have fun!
Simply 3D allows the creation of scenes with animated 3D objects and your 3D text can be used on web pages or documents. [Needless to say, 3D here means perspective representation like photographs and not actual three dimensional representations like a holograph.] Animated objects [like the witch which was flown around the Halloween scene in the demonstration at the October meeting] are exported as GIF or VRML2 files. This leads to a question. Since animation on a web page becomes an executable file on any computer on which it is downloaded, could one catch a virus from such a sight? Theoretically, the answer appears to be, "yes"; but more knowledgeable members of the club might usefully weigh in on this. Just because this reviewer is unable to see how such a virus might be constructed, does not mean it cannot be done.
Which brings us to a purely aesthetic judgment; the reviewer will exercise his privilege to remind the reader that just because something may be done by computer does not mean that it should be done. An example can be had by considering that $14.95 will buy 5000 fonts on a CD-ROM which would allow each individual word in this review to be rendered in a different type face, making it all but unreadable. Similarly, a "3D" display type may make an eye catching title on a web page or something else, but you are encouraged to remember that the purpose of the written word is to communicate, not to startle. There is a fine line between drawing attention to your content and overwhelming that content. Cross it at you peril.
Designer 7 is a powerful enough drawing program that this reviewer is seriously considering discarding his other ones. In addition to the normal tools, it provides easy reshaping using anchor points, which unlike implied selection handles do not affect interior fills. Gradient interior fills can be done from both sides of a highlight line rivaling [within the resolution levels] air brush work in simulating a 3D image. Background fills and frames can be easily constructed to reflect the lighting, complementing the 3D effect. Finally, drawings can be constructed in layers so that it is easy to overlap objects without disturbing one drawing with another. It should be noted that this module is intended for representational drawing, as such it allows the easy importation of various objects. It is not a substitute for a CAD program.
QuickSilver 3 works only with Windows 95 of Windows NT 4.0 and MS Explorer 3.0 or Netscape Navigator to generate vector graphics. For those who do not know, the other possible representation is a bitmapped (or raster) file. Such a file specifies the values [color and brightness] of each pixtal. A vector file, however, contains a mathematical definition of each line [whether straight or curved.] It therefore, takes up less space (sometimes much less,) provides a much more accurate representation of curves (less "jerkiness,") and downloads faster. The Designer drawings inserted into photographs can likewise be made into QuickSilver files.
The last section of the manual provides step-by-step directions for exporting pages to your web sight. It is seductive enough to any of us to try it. After all, our provider provides 10MB of web page space so Seriously, any one of these modules is worth the price ($39.95 from manufacturer, $29.95 to RCC.) To get all five for $129.95 seems like a bargain if only brochures are created. But with the additional power to create web pages, who can tell what....
c by Frank D. Howden, 1997
all rights reserved
Released without consideration to the Rochester Computer Club for:
a. unlimited publication in its Newsletter.
b. unlimited posting on its BBS, with the c notice and "2 copies per person"
All others must have the written permission of the author.

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Scanners Sizzle as Prices Plummet! by Ken Fermoyle

Can you believe the prices of scanners? Computer Dealer, a retailer trade journal, reported in October that flatbed and sheet-fed color units had fallen more than 30 percent since January. Sale prices as low as $89 were seen in November catalogs. Last summer the Hewlett-Packard (HP) ScanJet 5Pse was $399; by mid-November it was down to $269 in some computer stores.
This new affordability makes a scanner an attractive option for any computer owner. You won't believe how helpful a scanner can be until you've used one for several months. And most of today's scanners are compatible with PCs and Macs.
Do you often have to retype copy (mailing lists, reports to be updated, articles for newsletters) to get it into your computer? Or maybe you don't bother˜but you sure would like to have the material available by stroking a few keys. With a scanner and the optical character recognition (OCR) software supplied with most models, it's a snap! Just scan the printed material into a file, which your word processor can read and you can edit or format as you like.
But it's in the handling of graphics and photos where a scanner really shines.
Do you have photos or printed art you would like to incorporate into letters, greeting or business cards, or a Web page? (Just remember to respect copyright laws.) Wouldn't you like to produce flyers that show pictures of products you make or sell? Wouldn't it be nice to be able move patterns for craft projects into your computer so you could easily resize or alter them, then print them on your color printer? These are just a few of the many capabilities of even the most budget-friendly scanners.
Maybe you would like to sketch your own designs in pencil, then complete them with a graphics program in your computer. Professional artists and illustrators do it all the time. If the above comments have tweaked your interest enough that you go to a computer store to look at scanners, here are some tips that will help scanner novices.
A scanner basically converts light into zeros and ones (which computers use to perform operations)., converting analog data into digital information. Most flatbed scanners use small electronic components called CCDs (charge-coupled devices) as their "eyes." These eyes record data about light reflected off the scanned item; this information is saved as a computer file.
Don't let scanner jargon intimidate you: DPI, optical resolution, single pass, 24 bits or 30, scanning speed, maximum image size, dynamic range, etc. Remember a few basics and you'll do fine. Zero in on flatbed models if you're interested in graphics scanning.
They are more versatile and accurate than sheet-fed scanners. Sheet-fed models might be your best choice if you plan to do more text than graphics scanning.
Optical resolution is a critical measure of a scanner's capability and it's measured in dots per inch (dpi). You want at least 300x300 dpi or 300x600 dpi, the norm for scanners priced under $200. Models in the $300 to $500 range may show 400x800 or 600x1200 dpi, but 300 dpi will suffice for many of us.
You will probably be printing your scanned images on laser or inkjet printers with resolutions of 300 or 600 dpi, which work best with images scanned at 100 to 200 dpi. (Images scanned for on-screen or Web use need even less resolution; most monitors display 72-80 dpi and the Web limit is 72 dpi.) If you enlarge scanned images you increase the resolution required: double the size of the image when printing it and want it to have 200 dpi resolution, you must scan it at 400 dpi. Conversely, if you reduce the image to half-size for printing, you need only scan it at 100 dpi. If you expect you will seldom increase the size of your scans for printing, 300 dpi scanner likely will do just fine.
Interpolated or enhanced resolution is often used by vendors to pump up the numbers. Unlike optical resolution, which measures a definite quantity (how many pixels a scanner can see), interpolated resolution involves a guessing game: inserting new pixels between the old ones and guessing at what their light values would have been if that spot had been sampled. This usually results in poorer quality scans, so it's best to ignore interpolated resolution and concentrate on optical resolution.
Most scanners offered now are single-pass models. As the name implies, they complete a scan in one pass. Some older three-pass models might still be available at really low prices but a single-pass unit is worth the extra money because they're faster and more accurate.
A 30-bit scanner generally is generally more desirable, and expensive, than a 24-bit but a good 24-bit model, like the Hewlett-Packard 5Pse, may be preferable to a cheaper 30-bit unit. You may also see some 36-bit models, but save your money; they're overkill for our purposes.
Scanning speed is of less importance to buyers who will be using the scanner only a few times per day normally, than it is for graphics professionals working against deadlines. I wouldn't worry too much about scan speeds; manufacturers' specs don't mean much in the real world.
Maximum image size for flatbed scanners usually ranges from letter-size (8.5x11 inches) to legal-size (8.5x14 inches). Having the larger scanning bed is nice, but it may be a luxury many of you will never need.
Dynamic range is seldom quoted in the specs for scanners in the category covered here. It refers to a scanner's ability to capture the density of an image from its lightest highlights to its darkest shadow. Pro scanners usually have a range of 3.0 to 3.8, but "popular-priced" color flatbeds will be about 2.4, adequate when perfect color isn't needed or expected.
This article is meant to be only a basic primer. If you dig deeply into the subject of scanners, it can seem very complex. Take it one step at a time, learn as you go, and I'm sure your reaction in a short time will be like that of almost everyone I talked to in preparing this article:
"I don't know how I managed before I got my scanner; now I couldn't imagine how I could get along without it!"
I want to do a follow-up piece in a few months on how to install and use scanners most efficiently. To this end, I would love to hear from readers willing to share their scanner experiences, from installation to using scanning and image editing software most effectively. It's my hope that this column can become a medium to help us learn from each other and help each other learn.

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Tom Bowllan Program Chair, Rochester Computer Club

Tom Bowllan Program Chair



If so, please let me know.

voice mail: 234-0650


As some of you know, I will soon be taking on the responsibility of Program Chair for RCC. My duties will include arranging the topics and content for our monthly meetings. Surely everyone would like to see a robust blend of stimulating presentations. I'd like to do whatever I can to get those speakers YOU most like to here. Please complee this questionaire and return it to me so that I know YOUR interests. Your feedback is essential. Thank you.


How much time should be devoted to presentations? ____________
How many feature presentations should be made per meeting? ____________


Please indicate your preference for learning about each of the following topics by assigning it a value between 0 and 5:

where 5 = I wouldn't miss it for the world; and
where 0 = I would probably skip the meeting.

Quickie demos by our club members:

Secrets of Windows 95 ______ Presentations of the software we raffle off ______
How to's on the Internet ______ Demonstrations of what our SIG's are up to ______
Helpful WP, SS, DB, hints and techniques ______ Games demo\ strategy ______

Feature presentations:

Office Suites_____ Games_____ Printers_____ ISP's_____
Graphics_____ Educational_____ Modems_____ Browsers_____
Financial_____ Music_____ Drives_____ E-mail _____
Speech\Voice Art_____ CPU's_____ E-banking _____
Utilities _____ Other (specify) _____ Peripherals _____ E-trading _____ Newsgrps _____

Put Other Comments Here:








The newsletter editors can be reached at by phone or email.

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