Many articles in this months LilyPad newsletter can be seen here in their entirety.
The July issue, which can be purchased ($1.50) at many local stores, features the articles listed below.
[Newsletter of the Rochester Computer Club, Rochester NY. Non-profit newsletter use permitted with credit, and copy of the results to RCC.]
RCC Newsletter Quick Jump
Even Gurus Get the Blues
July '96 Issue Lilypad p1, Marty Becktell-Pres
[Newsletter of the FROG Computer Society Rochester NY. Non-profit newsletter use permitted with credit, and copy of the results to FROG.]
This has been a very interesting month for me. I started off the month with a family room full of boxes of computer parts that were supposed to go together to be a new Pentium computer. I was unsure whether I wanted to buy at the MarketPro show or just use the show for pricing and get what I wanted at Hamfest. After a quick first trip around MarketPro I had pretty well decided that I was going to buy the motherboard, video card and memory at this show. Some of the things that affected my decision were that I probably wasn't going to save anything significant at Hamfest because the prices at MarketPro were great. The person with the best prices was local so I could use a check instead of paying the surcharge for using a credit card.
I decided to get an Intel motherboard because I was tired of buying cheap motherboards from unknown sources and later finding that the BIOS was not compatible with the new operating system, a large hard-drive or just having unexplainable problems that appeared to be related to the motherboard. An added advantage I discovered later was that the documentation for the Intel motherboard was written in English and very, very extensive.
Stu got a 6x Sony CD player. I'm sure that it was more for his games than to get information off Encarta faster. And since Stu was getting a new CD player, I decided that I probably should get a 4x. I had been regretting not spending $48 at the last MarketPro Show for a 4x, but decided now that they were down to $36, I could afford one. Since I got a CD player, I decided I might as well get another case and a 3 1/2" floppy.
The only thing left to have a whole new computer was a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Well, I had several keyboards, and I keep a stock of mice since my neighbors have a tendency to knock on my door at 9:00 at night looking to buy mice. So that left the monitor. For several years I have been watching the price of 17" monitors drop, 'til now they are near $500. But it was not to be. The best excuse is probably that there was no more room in the station wagon for me to put a monitor. This was going to haunt me in about a week and a half.
By the time Hamfest came around the next weekend, I had the documentation for the motherboard read and the motherboard in the case, plus the new 1.2 gig hard-drive. Walking around at Hamfest I felt very good that I had made the purchases at MarketPro. The prices were better, many local businesses are attending, and the vendors were willing to talk, not just sell. It felt very good to know that I had made the right decision. I also realized that with the size of Hamfest, trying to go from vendor to vendor and keep information straight would have been much more difficult and I probably would have missed the guy from Buffalo selling 8 meg ram simms for $55.
The next couple of days I got the rest of the parts into the new case and started to configure it. I formatted the hard-drive with DOS 6.22 and loaded a brand new copy of WIN '95. I then decided to put in the network card. And that's when the real fun began. The network card would pass the diagnostics if I booted in DOS, if I dropped down from Win95 to a DOS session but it would not pass the diagnostics if I was in a DOS session in Win95. This was my first negative experience with Plug and Pray. The upshot was I had to double configure the BIOS on the motherboard for the network card. This only took a couple days.
My next problem was when I tried to take the new video card up to 1024 x 768 SVGA mode. The first couple of times the screen was just fuzzy with multiple images overlaying each other. Finally the monitor gave a click, and the on light started flashing, which means the monitor is in sleep mode. Further testing revealed it was not only in sleep mode, but in a coma. Its in the intensive care unit of Tuner Electronics. This was very traumatic for me. I cannot remember ever losing a major piece of hardware. Now I had the perfect excuse to buy a large monitor and both the shows were over.
My video problems were not over. My old Mitsubishi monitor was on Stu's machine, so I stole it. It did the same thing, that is, displayed the multiple images, not clicked and died. I don't know if I could put up with a double click. This behavior was not only on the new Pentium with the PCI video card but also on my 486. After many hours (days) of experimenting I finally noticed a small paragraph in the manual for the video card on the 486 about a jumper for monitors that would not support high scan rates. Twenty minutes later I was looking at 1024 x 768.
So now I just had to get the Pentium to work. One thing I left out was that in trying to resolve the video problems with the 486, since I couldn't see what was going on I had to shut down Win95 with the power switch. We all know that's a no-no. In the process Win95 got so corrupted that it had to be reinstalled. I think I have now passed Wayne in the number of times I have installed Win95.
On the Pentium I noticed an INI file for the video card. I have now dissected that file enough where I think I know where the scan rates are being set based upon the video mode I chosen; and at this time I do not want to trust this killer card on another monitor. It is in 800 x 600 so I am saving the 1024 x 768 for a new monitor.
Now I was back to work. I loaded Netscape, Internet Explorer, and telecom software so I was back where I could get some work done. The network was working, the documentation for Netscape was good enough to get all the configurations right to get into Vivanet. Actually the documentation for Netscape helped me configure Internet Explorer 3 and Microsoft Exchange to get mail and access to the internet with them. I was up and running, I thought.
I then tried to print out something and got an error message. The printer was out of paper. I refilled the paper, tried again, same error message. That night, again, I had to go to bed with a non-working computer.
Since I got an error message, I reasoned that the computers were talking to each other- just not the right way. I tested the printer on the 486 and it was okay. Off came the case and I discovered that the cable for the parallel port was only on one row of pins which was easy enough to fix. I felt so confident that I put the case on and tightened the screws.
The next printout I got the same error. I finally broke down and Read The Fine Manual, took the case off again and turned the connector around. My next printout was successful.
There are a lot of things going on with FROG but this month I wanted to take a break from my usual column as President and just write something about my experiences with a computer. This just goes to show that even the gurus have problems, but this is how we learn.
At work one of the other tech support people had a customer who has been having problems for months. When I looked at their WIN.INI I saw that they were loading a video utility which was the same one that came on my PCI video card.
Since I had learned something about that utility during the last few weeks I was able to ascertain that that utility was controlling the Windows video environment. When the customer stopped loading the utility, their problem disappeared. Sometimes you learn easily and sometimes its painful and sometimes even the gurus get the blues.
Real Magic for Hard-Disks
July '96 Issue Lilypad p.3, Peter Moore
[Newsletter of the FROG Computer Society Rochester NY. Non-profit newsletter use permitted with credit, and copy of the results to FROG.]
If you need Partition Magic 2.0, you need it bad. If you've ever wished that your hard-disk was partitioned differently- say because your cluster size is causing excessive wasted space, then this program may be for you. PowerQuest Corporation's latest offering replaces and vastly expands the functions of DOS's FDISK utility; it lets a power-user (or even an over-confident near-novice) slice and dice a hard disk's storage parameters six ways from Sunday!
Requirements: Partition Magic 2.0 requires:
I ran Partition Magic on a home-built (and continuously rebuilt) clone, running Windows 95 on an AMD 486DX4-100 processor, a 1GB EIDE hard disk, and 16 MB of RAM. I started with my hard disk divided into two equal 500-ish MB partitions. Needless to say, it bears only a slight resemblance to that now.
What Partition Magic does is reasonably simple to describe (yeah, right!). It has a relatively limited set of functions. What sets it apart and makes it valuable is that it makes those functions easy to use, and it has one really important difference from FDISK.
FDISK sets up one or two partitions. One must be the "primary" partition, and DOS will assign it the drive letter C:. If there's another, it can be a "DOS Extended" partition, or a non-DOS partition.
A DOS Extended partition can be further divided into logical drives. That is, inside such a partition, DOS can pretend that there actually exist multiple extra hard drives, each of which will be assigned another drive letter when DOS boots up. Same piece of physical hardware, but DOS will act as though there are many different hard disks.
Finally, a non-DOS partition can be set aside by FDISK, to be later used by some other operating system, such as OS/2, Windows NT, Unix, Netware, or what-have-you.
Okay, so Partition Magic does all that, too, but it does more. And there's that difference I mentioned. It's kind of an important thing, too.
See, if you use FDISK to re-size a partition that has data on it, the data instantly goes to that great Bit Bucket in the sky. Forever.
But if you try the same operation using Partition Magic, your data stays safe. You can create new partitions, shrink and expand existing partitions, format them using DOS's FAT file system or OS/2's HPFS, re-size the clusters on an existing drive, and more.
To give you a better idea, I'll tell you in a minute just what I've done on my hard disk. So far.
Installation is kind of odd. While you can launch Partition Magic from Windows 95, it must be run from the command prompt, or from a Win95 "MS-DOS Mode" real-mode session. Or, of course, it can be run straight from DOS itself.
But it installs from within Windows. Must be because it's designed to work with Win95, where you expect to install everything from the GUI. But the installation itself is reasonably straightforward, and consists of only two diskettes.
[ED note: Partition Magic can also be installed from DOS. Installing on the hard-disk is recommended; the creation of two floppies is also vital.]
When Partition Magic starts (slowly under DOS; very slowly under Win95; and glacially under OS/2), it draws a perfect imitation of a Win95 window, looking in every way like a Win95 application.
The menu choices aren't always completely intuitive, and it isn't always clear why some operations work and some things are grayed out. I personally am somewhat more knowledgeable than the average user, but I missed the presence of a serious primer, or set of tech notes, or monster README file, or what have you.
I wanted to read an in-depth discussion of what Partition Magic would do, and why, and how. That's because what it does is serious, low-level, slightly scary stuff with your precious hard disk, and its even more precious data.
Incidentally, while this version- which the box indicates is "Version 2.0 for Windows 95, Windows & DOS"- does load and run under OS/2, it can't change partition sizes, but merely displays and tests what exists. [Bob Frank reports the existence of a separate full version for OS/2.]
Quibbles aside, the bottom line is that I was able to create four partitions (two new ones, that is) on my hard disk, re-sizing them frequently, and moving them to different places on the disk, adding a complete new installation of OS/2 Warp (with its own superior FDISK), as well as a new DOS 6 partition- all without losing a single byte of irreplaceable data. That's impressive!
I also re-sized my partitions to get the best (for me and my disk) balance between cluster size and drive size. Again, ultra-smooth and easy.
Tech support is mentioned right on the title page, above (!) the sales number. There are phone and fax numbers, a CompuServe address, and an Internet email address. There's also a two-page section at the back of the manual, detailing first the things you should write down before you call tech support, and then spelling out the appropriate contact info. There's even a BBS number, which escaped mention at the front of the manual.
The docs weigh in at under a pound, in the form of a slim 6"x9" book, which is quite good at telling you what to do to install and run Partition Magic under DOS, Win95, and OS/2. The same manual is presumably included with the version of the program made specifically for OS/2.
I mentioned before that I would have appreciated a deeper discussion of what was going on, and its built-in limitations, but I won't belabor the point. The manual is clear, concise, and not inflated with non-nutritive filler. No cholesterol, either.
To put it in a nutshell, I like Partition Magic. I am one of those who does need it; and so by my own definition, I need it bad. It's a good program, not without room for improvement (I look forward to Version 3.0), but with some serious power under the hood.
The bottom line here- and pay attention- is this: my data is safe. I wrung this thing out fairly thoroughly, and I'm much happier with my system's new configuration. And to top it off, I feel confident the its next configuration (if and when) will make me happier yet.
If Partition Magic 2.0 doesn't quite make me perfectly happy, it makes me fell both contented and safe. And in this business, a safe in the hand is worth a whole flock of happies in the bush. Or something.
PowerQuest Corp. can be reached at: 1083 North State St., Orem, Utah, 84057. Sales: 1-800-379-2566, Business: 1-801-226-8977, Fax: 1-801-226-8941, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Home page: http://www.powerquest.com
Those Hard-Disk Clusters -
Dick Comegys, LilyPad Editor
Peter's review of Partition Magic mentioned his desire to gain efficiency in cluster-size. That's a factor overlooked by most of us.
You'll recall from issues past that I like to work from segmented drives; I've always used at least four- even when the first hard-disk was only 64 megs total! The separate drive designations help me keep things sorted outlike having four file-cabinets instead of one big one.
I knew on the Pentium I got last fall that Win95 took a lot of space; so I gave it 370 megs in a "primary" partition on the gigabyte disk; then assigned the rest to an "Extended DOS partition"; and divided that into four 96-meg logical drives, leaving the final 250 or so to a logical drive for a future OS/2.
Not until I ran CHKDSK on C: in preparation for OS/2 (see the article!) did I face the full implication of running a large disk. On the 96-meg partitions, the "file allocation unit" was 2048 bytes; on Win95's C: that same "allocation unit" was 8192 bytes- 8k instead of 2!
Partition Magic's docs (I like them better than Peter did) filled me in further: it gets worse! The 2k size is good up to 127 megs; then until 256, it becomes 4k; and the 8k size goes up to through 511 megs. From there to a gig, the unit (cluster size) is 16k; and beyond that, it's 32k- 32 kilobytes just to open a file! In that range, the docs estimate wasted space at 40 per-cent. So an unpartitioned 1.6 gig disk is not giving any more data storage than an effectively-partitioned meg.
And you don't need Partition Magic?
July '96 Issue Lilypad p.7, Dick Comegys
[Newsletter of the FROG Computer Society Rochester NY. Non-profit newsletter use permitted with credit, and copy of the results to FROG.]
Well, I've made the move- picked up a copy of the CD-ROM version of OS/2 with Windows support (just under $115 discounted at Egghead); and put it on my AT&T Globalyst Pentium. This is known to be a calculated exercise in frustration, since the Globalyst has a hybrid modem/sound-card that is Win95-dependent. That means no communications under OS/2; and who-knows what sounds- if any.
So why try OS/2? Basically, because Win95 does such a lousy job of juggling more than one DOS application at a time. Some of my church-related stuff doesn't even have Win95-based analogs. And I'm not about to port my BASIC stuff to '95 standards. The Win95 package as-it-comes doesn't even HAVE a BASIC-language application! And for me, that's been a MUST- ever since Osborne days.
Win95 doesn't like Geoworks; it terminates that program-set at odd times, insisting that Geoworks has "performed an illegal operation." Bah, humbug! Win95 can't even keep track of a TSR designed to keep Geoworks from resetting the system clock; on each session exit, brings up a message that "your TSR program is ready to run.
Win95 also goes psychedelic on virtually every session-change between Geoworks and other applications- really weird video displays; goes haywire when I try to switch between DOS programs. To be sure of getting the results I want, I have to exit one to get the next- fast enough on a Pentium; but not keeping my places marked between applications.
And there are programs Win95 won't support at any price- Layout (a programming tool like Visual Basic) or Graphics Workshop. It doesn't do much better for the DOS version of WordPerfect 6.0. Some of these, it won't even run from an "MS-DOS session" - unless that's booted from the emergency boot-up disk.
Finally, when it comes to command-line DOS, Win95 give the merest nod to itthe barest command-set since MS-DOS 3.0!
Still, I need the Win95 communications; and probably the multi-media from time to time; that means keeping Win95 on the machine. I configured a C: drive of 350 megs to install Win95 and its associated programs. The auxiliary programs- including a couple of AOL sessions, Netscape, QModem, diagnostics, Quicken and a bundle of AT&T goodies take up about 150 megs of that; the space-greedy Win95 takes another 150 megs (and that's not counting its SWAP file!).
With only 50 megs left, I'm not going to install OS/2 on the C: Drive. I had early-on, in fact, reserved a logical H: drive of 250 megs for implementing OS/2.
OS/2 Installation -
While OS/2 comes on a CD-ROM, it takes a couple of 5.3 floppies to get to that. From a cold boot, the Install disk cranks up fine. Then the critical question: Normal install? or advanced?
Mine is going to be advanced. OS/2 offers a Boot Manager (1 meg partition- no label) that catalogues all the operating-systems on your machine (you could have UNIX as well as DOS and OS/2 and Win95). On boot-up- cold or warm- it offers a choice of any; if you just stare at it, in about 30-seconds it will move into the system last used.
Fine. Only one trouble- the OS/2 FDISK which kicks in to identify (and reconfigure if needed) my drive reads C: fine; but can't make sense out of what Win95 has done to the Extended-DOS partition- the logical D: E: F: G: H: drives. To OS/2 they don't exist!
Funny thing is, Win95's FDISK won't read OS/2's configuration of my lap-top either. Absolutely crashes! So- I figure- there's probably no future in reconfiguring the big machine with OS/2, either!
Partition-Magic to the rescue -
The rescue? Partition Magic! Pete Moore lent me his copy of this miracle-worker; I had backed up all my data- except Win95 itself (what the hey? I'd installed it two or three times already, anyway!) Partition Magic worked flawlessly- first of all, to reduce H: to a manageable 100 megs, since OS/2 only takes 40-60 of it. Then to reduce the Extended-DOS partition by the critical meg needed for the Boot Manager; then to move that meg to the front of the disk- all in less than 30 minutes (once I figured out what was needed)!
Time to re-boot the OS/2 install routine. Now it's 20/20 vision- everything in sight; and a quick installation. Thank God and IBM for the CD-ROM- it quarters the time needed for the 15 disks it took on the laptop- (would have been 20 or more with the Windows support and programs under that).
Trimming it up -
Installation, however, does not get you home free. OS/2 takes some trimming up- begs for it, in fact. The OS/2-system icon on the desktop hides an OS/2-install icon, which in turn accesses the routines that let you identify programs to be put on the desktop or in program folders, customize the clock (if you want it) and the look-&-feel of the desktop itself.
That's only the beginning. On a machine with only 8 megs of RAM, it's necessary to decide which programs you do not want to execute-in-backgroundin other words, which to switch rather than multi-task. Otherwise, progress becomes molasses-like not too many programs into loading up.
I took a peek into the Windows-app folder and discovered a trial version of Quickbooks- 25 sessions worth; and then order, or down the tube! Since I had just picked up Quickbooks at the FROG meeting for review, I am more than casually interested; more next month! q
Report to Date -
OS/2 is up-and-running. Interestingly enough, it will play .WAV's through the sound-board- but only if Win95 has been run up and abandoned to an OS/2 warm-boot. Coming in cold, OS/2 will not recognize the hybrid. And it won't so far play MIDI files or audio CD's on the ROM player.
It will support WordPerfect without insisting a re-boot to MS-DOS (necessary for the DOS version under Win95); it will run Layout. and Graphics Workshop. And gets along fine with Geoworks- not even needing a SETVER call to make it run! And I can switch in-&-out to my bible and prayer-book resources without bringing the system to a screeching halt!
There's far to go, of course; but a vast improvement over my limping Win95. More next month!
FROG Program Notes
July '96 Issue Lilypad p.9, Robert Frank
Vivanet rules! Our June meeting featured David Wolf from Vivanet, Inc. Those of you who are not familiar with Vivanet, they are a home-grown Internet service provider supporting individuals in and outside the greater Rochester area.
Many of our members already have their Internet access accounts via Vivanet. This is the company that has our Web Page on-line free of charge. Vivanet has supported our user group in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Please consider Vivanet for your Internet connection when the time arrives. I have sent them my check.
Dave and company gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the Internet. They touched on the Internet's history and technical details. The presentation went well-beyond the end of our meeting and I apologize for having to literally throw people out at the end of the meeting. We'll have to invite Vivanet back some time in the near future.
Presentations never seem to happen as planned and our last meeting was not an exception. All things considered, Dave gave an impressive presentation without the slightest hint things were not happening as expected. That's a mark of a true professional that knows his subject.
Remember folks that Vivanet has offered special pricing to FROG members. Vivanet usually charges a $10.00 setup fee to new accounts and then $57.00/quarter. To club members, they have offered to throw out the setup fee and give us one free month when we open a new account. That's four months of Internet access for $57.00 plus tax. This is an incredible $14.25 a month for the first four months.
Give them a call:716-475-1610 Voice
Note on your application form "FROG Offer".
"Thanks!" to Dick Krager -
Also attending our meeting was Dick Krager, the Computer Coordinator of Brighton High School. We owe a lot to Dick for his continuing support of our user group. Many thanks Dick!
Dick Krager is our contact at Brighton High for the loan of the audio-visual equipment, projection panel and the phone line for our meetings. If we had to purchase or rent this equipment, it would cost the user group hundreds of dollars. We held a special presentation in Mr. Krager's honor and awarded him two FROG mugs in appreciation of his support. If you see Dick Krager at future meetings (which I sure hope he attends), shake his hand and offer up a heart-felt thank-you. He deserves the recognition.
July Meeting -
Our July meeting will be held at Media Play in Henrietta. Media Play hosted our meeting last year as well, while Brighton High was closed during the summer months. This year we'll be having our July meeting at their store in Henrietta and in August we'll meet at their Greece store. The Henrietta store is located in South Town Plaza and the Greece store is located in Ridgemont Plaza.
As an additional inducement, Media Play is offering the following to FROG members:
The program for our July meeting-
Hope to see everyone there!
August Meeting -
The program for our August meeting is still in the planning stage and will be announced in the future. In September we are back to Brighton High with Software Publishing Corporation presenting their presentation software ASAP WordPower. A copy of ASAP WordPower will be raffled off at a prior meeting with the review published in our September issue of the LilyPad. This will give us all a sneak preview to our September meeting and we'll have our questions ready to ask during the September meeting.
Software Committee -
We are continuing to bring software to our meetings as door prizes and raffle for review. Last month the following software was raffled off:
Product: Winner: Review Due: WinCheckIt Duffy Vigaretti* Aug 13th Laplink/Win95 Claude Fedele July 9th WinFax David Osofsky July 9th AskSam Jeff Mehr July 9th
We are still wanting for reviews of the following:
Product: Lotus Word Pro / Winner: Marty Becktell / Date Won: May 14th
I would like to remind all members that you may also ask us to request software packages for your review. We can't promise that we will be successful in being able to get you a free copy of the software you would like; but more times than not we are successful and you get to keep the software in return for your published review.
Please present your requests to myself or Tom Barrett, and supply as much information as you can about the product and publisher. Membership has its privileges.
Also, we are in the process of gathering prizes for our July 14th picnic. I hope any publisher and vendor reading this article will be generous in their donations. Please address all donations to:FROG Computer Society
1945 Ridge Road E Suite 5180
Rochester NY 14622
Glimpses into the Future
July '96 Issue Lilypad p.11,Frank Howden
CD's Today and Tomorrow -
The July '96 issue of Scientific American has a two-part article on the future of CD-ROM drives.
Part 1 deals with the methods by which the emerging digital versatile disc (DVD) format will be able to store about 14 times as much data as current CD-ROMs. The article details the various formats that ten major electronics manufacturers will begin introducing this fall and winter.
Part 2 details the current state of research into blue-laser technology, which will reduce the wave-length of current lasers by half. This would allow an approximate doubling of current data density using current technology!
For those unfamiliar with Scientific American, let me say that one does not have to be a hardware nerd to understand these articles. There are no differential equations here. In fact, there is no mathematics of any kind, save the arithmetical difference in wave-lengths. In addition, there is an intuitive sketch of how solid-state laser diodes work. Anyone who has ever encountered the "electron-hole" explanation of how transistors (and other semiconductors) work will feel right at home.
For those who do not want even this complexity, skipping this part will still produce an intuitive understanding of these technologies. The reader may want to buy this issue and file it away until hit with a bewildering panoply of new acronyms just before Christmas.
Copyright and Digital Networks -
The same issue of SA has a thoughtful article about the challenge computer networks pose for the copyright law and for fair rewards from intellectual property. The article details both the history of the copyright law, and many of the current problems of fitting that law to digital networks. One nice illustration is from the San Francisco Chronicle/Examiner Web page. It explores the problem of who-owns-what very nicely.
In addition, the article details how libraries are being 'price-squeezed' by electronic licensing. Some of the pitfalls of current legislation and administrative and judicial decisions are explored. Anyone who got exercised over the attempted 'decency' legislation- and especially anyone who was motivated enough to write to a member of Congress- must read this article. Most helpful of all this article (like all SA articles) contains a brief bibliography for those who want to explore the issues in more depth. q
And two more...
(from AOL's Uer-Group Connection)
Attention, Email Addicts
For those of you who cannot stand to be more than 30 seconds away from an email box, a com?pany called AtcomInfo, has the solution- a so-called "Cyber?booth": an email kiosk where users can sit down, log on, communicate, and be on their way at a cost of $3 for seven minutes, $5 for 15 minutes, and $20 for one hour_with access to AOL, CIS, MSN, and Netcom.
First-time customers give AtcomInfo their credit card number (of course) and indicate which email service they wish to search. Once registered, the AtcomInfo system "remembers' the customer and displays his information at sign-on. Founder Neil Senturia is talking with both Kinko's and Starbucks about placing his equipment at their sites. (CyberTimes 5 June 96)
Don't Leave Home Without It
A company called Computing Devices International has come up with a wearable computer called- The Wearable. Only two pounds, it can be worn around the waist or over the shoulder. It sports a "low-end" Pentium chip (remember when there was no such thing- like a week ago?) and ships with dictation and voice recognition software that allows the machine to be operated by voice command. Currently available only for military personnel (currently deployed in Bosnia), he has plans for expansion into the commercial market. (Inter@ctive Week 5 June 96).
Cheap & Obsolete, but Still Truckin'
July '96 Issue Lilypad p.11, Frank Howden
[FROG member Anson Chong has pulled together a set of programs designed to be particularly useful in keeping older machines productive-- pre-hard-drive 8086's and XT's in particular.]
Thanks to volunteer beta testers including Arthur Lowenthal, John Utz, James Albertini, John Doser, Dick Seig and James Hall, the Master Manini diskette ("Manini" is "cheap" in the Hawaiian language) has come a long way! For background information, see LilyPads of 10/95 and 2/96.
This follow-up article reports on the progress of this effort to create a free, all-on-one-disk software package for obsolete 8086 or 8088 PCs with no hard disk. The need to create this package grew out of the realization that:
Our initial version of Manini was designed for those ancient PCs with two 720K disk drives and a 2400-baud modem. Thousands of such machines were made under IBM or IBM clone labels back in the early to mid '80s. For these PCs, we came up with one Manini diskette that contained small-size freeware and
shareware that could easily send/receive e-mail, do dial-ups for phone lists, do simple math and word-proces?sing and do the usual file management chores, including condensing files to save disk space, as well as the usual search and retrieve tasks.
We later discovered that many people still have PCs with the 5-1/4" disk drives (360K capacity), so we developed a Manini package consisting of two floppies. It was necessary to do this because the software that fit on a 720K diskette could not fit on a single 360K floppy.
Over the last six months, our valiant beta testers found glitches and, of course, typos. The typos were easy to fix, but some of the other problems took time to solve.
A major early-on problem was getting the telecommunications software to work. We found that some clunkers were pre-set for COM1 and others for COM2. Since the software we chose had to be set by hand to either of those ports, it was necessary to ask the user to what port his or her PC was set. Often the response was "I don't know." We solved that problem by simply distributing two diskettes at a time, one set for COM1 and one set for COM2.
The telecommunications software we bundled into Manini are Procomm ver. 2.4.3 of 1985 (to get into free BBSs for e-mail) and Sidekick ver.1.56B (1984) to handle simple phone lists for automatic dialing.
The Ohio beta testers suggested a telecommunications shareware named "Banana" which "sensed" the communications port of the PC as it was loaded, and adjusted itself accordingly, but we didn't incorporate it into Manini because Banana also required some fine tuning and just did not seem as user friendly as the old and reliable Procomm, which was easy to manipulate and pre-set.
We streamlined the PKZIP and PKUNZIP routines (programs to save disk space) and pre-typed the names and phone numbers of a few free BBSs in Hilo, Cleveland and Rochester (where our beta testers reside. Thank you, Frog member Arthur Abel for getting us the up-to-date Cleveland numbers!).
With the above improvements, all a user needs to do to get started is put the Manini in the left slot of his or her 8086 or 8088 PC, turn on the machine, and follow the prompts! All the necessary information to do the various operations are on the imbedded intuitive help screens. No umpteen-page manuals to frustrate the user, that's for sure!
We have solved most of the problems that cropped up over the past six months by redesigning the software and by improving the help screens. On the other hand, there is still that occasional PC that refuses to respond to the Manini, but we keep on trying!
In the process of improving and fixing the Manini, we learned a heck of a lot about 8086 and 8088 PCs and gained a healthy respect for them!
In addition to my friend in Hawaii with his clunker, the Manini is used by a large senior citizens group in Cleveland. They report that many of their members have "obsolete" PC's which they give to their grandkids, and they find our little all-on-a-diskette package useful. The Manini is also used at an inner-city school here in Rochester (See LilyPad of 3/96, p. 9).
If you have a workable clunker and want to try our improved Manini, send a self-addressed stamped envelope with a blank 3 1/2" 720K diskette (or two 5 1/4" 360K floppies) and tell us to what COM port your machine is set (either COM1 or COM2). If you don't know what it is, double the number of diskettes you send so that we can send you both options.
My snail mail address is: Anson Chong, 184 Surrey Hill Way, Henrietta, NY 14623-3047. The Manini is free, but we do request feedback and comments so that we can improve it even more!
Reminder: The Master Manini works only on 8086 or 8088 PCs with two disk-drives (either 3 1/2" or 5 1/4"). It won't work if you have a hard drive, but then, you wouldn't want or need the Manini if you did!
FROG Stuff: Minutes & Membership
July '96 Issue Lilypad p.18, Bill Wells, Steve Staub
FROG's June Program Meeting
[History note: The June issue of the LilyPad had a regrettable omission in the paragraph announcing the end of DICK COMEGYS tenure as editor. Between RAY MILLER's death and DICK COMEGYS' resumption of the task of editor, that post was filled by DAVID OLSEN who worked hard but took us in a direction we could not afford. We apologize for the oversight.]
Pres. MARTY BECKTELL conducted his New Users Group hour with his usual good humor and Guru expertise. Many questions were fielded to the satisfaction of those present which once again speaks to the value of such exchanges.
Program Chair BOB FRANK spoke glowingly of the generosity of BRIGHTON HIGH in accepting our presence and providing facilities. DICK KRAGER makes it possible and in appreciation was awarded two Frog Mugs.
MEDIA PLAY will once again ease our progress through the summer months by offering FROG COMPUTER SOCIETY the privilege of holding our PROGRAM MEETINGS in their stores. Southtown Plaza will host in July and Ridgemont Plaza in August. They will offer to all members a 10% discount during the meetings. You must show your membership card to participate.
The FROG PICNIC will take place on Sunday, July 14th at BRIGHTON PARK from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. A motion was made to allot $150.00 for picnic expenses. It passed.
DICK COMEGYS will meet with all those interested in Desktop Publishing at St. Stephen's Church the first Tuesday of every month at 7:00 P.M. While he favors GeoWorks any program you wish will be studied and utilized.
Vice-Prez WAYNE HOWARD and NICK FRANCESCO have managed to meet on BBS problems and are working diligently toward a final and satisfactory end of the transition period.
Program Chair BOB FRANK introduced DAVE WOLFE from Vivanet, Your local Internet connection. Vivanet offers Internet Access with unlimited service for the following; world wide web access, news groups access, library access, international e-mail, and also unlimited hours per month and access period. Vivanet, as a unit of Vivatron Corp., has been based in Rochester for more than 10 years. Viva-NET Inc offers easy monthly, quarterly or yearly billing and provides free unlimited technical support.
DAVE WOLFE spoke so eloquently and held the attention of the audience so firmly that the time allotted for his presentation ran over and no one seemed to notice or mind. Without a lapse in the questioning it is apparent that the interest is high and a return visit would be welcome.
JIM HALL reported the 16th annual Conference for the Nation's Genealogists sponsored by The Federation of Genealogical Societies and hosted by The Rochester Genealogical Society will be held at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center from August 14th to the 17th. This will be big. There will be more than one-hundred and ten lecture sessions from which to choose. An additional number of pre-conference Management Workshops will offer practical tips and expertise on publications,, programs, running meetings, preserving records, and developing plans. The Exhibition Hall will have over 130 booths offering a wide variety of books, supplies, and computer products and services for your examination and purchase. The opportunity will be there to learn what is new and drawings for door prizes will be held every day. Genealogy is one of the most interesting topics of user groups today. Search out your family tree.
...and June's Planning Meeting
Big things are ahead for the future operations of our LilyPad. STEVE STAUB who has had newsletter experience has offered to act as publisher. By working as an interim assistant to DICK COMEGYS he will learn the nuts-and-bolts procedures and see how the shoe fits.
Others have volunteered to do the writing of pertinent articles. Those include ANSON CHONG, JEFFREY MEHR and CHARLES SUMNER. PETE MOORE contributes with regularity and BOB FRANK has assured Steve that his expertise and aid is available. STEVE has no problem continuing as Treasurer, but feels he will have to relinquish the Membership Chair which means someone will have to step forward and take over so all you members take heed and think hard about contributing to the operation of our users group.
Postal rate changes are in store July 1st; DICK COMEGYS suggested the new Editor may want to check the possibility of moving to an 8-1/2 x 5-1/4-inch page size to get better mailing rates for the LilyPad. No action now.
The FROG PICNIC will take place on Sunday July 14th at Brighton Park on Westfall Rd.
DAVE WOLFE of Viva-NET has generously offered to pay every member's ticket price for our summer picnic. We thank him and invite members of his family to join him if possible.
Respectfully - Bill Wells, Sect'y
Several club members have asked if a list is available of members who are willing to help them with their computer problems (one on one) at their home.
In the next issue of the Lilypad a questionnaire will included. I will give club members two months to fill it out and return it to me. The results will be available by the September meeting and a brief description of what services will be available to club members.
I'm still working on the questions that will be asked. It will be briefmost likely a maximum of four questions. One other question will be added; it does not pertain helping solve computer problems. It will ask is anyone willing to car-pool to any club activity. This might help get more members at a FROG activity.
Both of the above concerns were brought to my attention at a general meeting or at one of the gatherings we had. These two concerns are not a big problem; but solving them, we just might help club members enjoy their computers and make it to more club activities.
REMINDER: If you are going to have a change of address please let me know when this change will go in effect so you will not miss a single issue of your monthly club news letter.
And please check your mailing label for when your membership expires. Renewing early will serve several purposes:
The membership committee could use a couple more members to help out with things that you can do at home on your computer with little or NO meetings. If you're interested in helping the membership call me at 458-3420 or I just might give you a call. The jobs that need to be done is mostly record keeping and putting together 2 packets not hard or time consuming jobs.
--Steve Staub, Membership Chair
Desk-Top Publishing? Your chance!
July '96 Issue Lilypad p.20, Dick Comegys - Editor Lilypad
DESKTOP PUBLISHING SIG TO START AUGUST 6th
There's a new SIG offered this summer by FROG: a primer on desk-top publishing. First Tuesdays, 7:30 at St Stephen's Church, 350 Chili Ave.
If the time-and-place sound familiar, that's because it's pre-empting what used to be Geo?works time. Truth to tell, the demo will still be Geoworksthough with a focus that the learnings can be applied to many other applications; and problems can be brought from anywhere.
For those who want a taste of a broad-spectrum application, GeoPublish is available as shareware at the session. Bring two 3.5 floppies and you're home free- either to use it as a benchmark in seeking an appropriate DTP approach for yourself; or to buy into it! The full Ensemble is still available- even if one of the world's best-kept secrets. In fact, the company's currently keeping it in Canada- USI: Universal Software Interactive.
PO Box 965
H9P 2X1 CANADA
By phone: 800-985-4263 or 514-633-9495
Price on the full Ensemble is still about $80. That includes the -Write and -Draw components featured with the file-management system in GeoPublish; and (non-linking) spreadsheet and database applications. Plus a scheduling calendar and phone-dex dialer, and a host of lesser goodies.
In ease of use and flexibility, Geoworks still works rings around most other apps I've seen. Basic page formats can be easily set- but then varied as needed page-to-page by re-sizing, replicating or deleting text-frames- with text-flow maintained through the document; or if you wish, separated into Sections.
Don't worry that you'll be tagged for LilyPad Editor; Steve Staub (see the Planning-Meeting notes) has taken that one on. Here's a chance to try your talent at the world of Desk-Top Publishing- without spending a lot to do it!
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