Lilypad


JuneA few of the many articles in this months LilyPad newsletter can be seen here in their entirety.

The June 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.]


  • President's Page
    • President Marty Becktell covers the summer, spring gathering, software to-go, and the hamfest.....p1
  • Dick Comegys' Random Writes
    • The Editor speaks on Word Perfect 6.1, Dave Sokolov passed on, and volunteers needed to take over LilyPad in September.....p13


RCC Newsletter Quick Jump

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1/98


President's Page

June '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.]

bulletSummer is finally here; and like many other FROG members I'm finding myself spending less and less time in front of the computer, and more and more time in the yard. Still there are things that need to be done that require a computer; and as I found when I started this month's column, software or hardware will always find a way to keep you from doing what you really want to do.

bulletIn this case I fired up Word for Win95. I was able to get about half a paragraph, just enough to get into writing, and I'd get that dreaded "This program has performed an illegal operation and will be closed down. If the problem persists contact the program vendor."

bulletAfter rebooting Windows I started again hoping that the problem got flushed with the RAM. But no, it was more persistent then that. So I have one more thing to troubleshoot over what looks to be a fine summer weekend. I guess the point is that the number of problems that computers give us is not necessarily related to the amount of time we spend using them (it is related to how important a task you need to do and how little time there is to do it).

Summer...

bulletWith the weather deciding to abruptly change from winter to summer- snow to high 80's or 90's in a week- it's hard to realize it is really just spring.

bulletI say this because summer is when the FROG hops around, and we still have one more month at Brighton High.

bulletThis summer we will be at the Media Plays- Henrietta and Greece- for July and August meetings. Also in July we again have the annual FROG Family Picnic at the Brighton Town Park. The details will be in next month's LilyPad. I don't want to force thoughts about Rochester winters, so I'll stop there.

Spring Gathering...

bulletMay 18th-- the first nice warm sunny Saturday in at least a year and a half, 32 FROG members and guests showed up for the Spring Gathering and Garage sale. Again a good time was had by all. Considering that we had such a good turnout despite such nice weather, we will be doing them again, but not until fall.

bulletThe gatherings are a chance for members to bring that misbehaving PC to a place where there has to be someone that can help you figure out what is wrong with it; or show off an application that you feel is really neat; or just spend some time socializing with other computer users. (Save again. I don't trust this machine not to eat my column.)

Software To-Go...

bulletOur new system for ordering software seems to be paying off. We now have several month's supply of door prizes. Part of the credit goes to the new system, but most of the credit needs to go to Bob Frank and Tom Barrett for their efforts in ordering software. I would like to encourage everyone to let them know if there is any software you would like to review. We are not looking for PC Magazine type of reviews; the LilyPad doesn't compete with PC Magazine. What we want is a REAL user's impression of the product.

HamFest...

bulletSun Jun 2nd; and I'd like to say a few things about it. HamFest is a great chance to get a really good deal on computer parts and software.

bulletIt is also a great chance to get, shall I say, "less than you expected".

bulletThe vendors at shows make their money by selling quantity with very little, if anything, set aside for support. The best chance you can have for a successful trip is to know what you are looking for. For example, if you are looking for memory, know if you need parity or non-parity. Take your hardware manuals. They have valuable information about your system. You can always leave them in the car and go out and refer to them for details.

bulletI always use a credit card. If something doesn't work when you get home, it is always easier to get the problem resolved if you have your credit card company helping you. Most vendors charge about 3% extra if you use a credit card. I consider it cheap insurance.

bulletIt seems that there are a lot of local people now at the shows that can compete with not-so-locals. It is always easier trying to resolve problems if you buy from someone local-- plus more of your money stays in the local economy.

bulletUntil next month, may your electron always flow in the right direction, Marty Becktell, President FROG Computer Society


Lotus Smart Suite 96 Edition

June '96 Issue Lilypad p.3, David Osofsky

[Newsletter of the FROG Computer Society Rochester NY. Non-profit newsletter use permitted with credit, and copy of the results to FROG.]

David Osofsky Gets It Running On A 386!

BulletThe Windows 95 version of Lotus Smart Suite (CD ROM version) is specified to run on a '486 or better machine. In particular: IBM PC or compatible (80486 or higher), VGA, mouse, CD-ROM drive, 8 Mb memory (minimum)- 12 Mb recommended), 57 Mb hard disk space (minimum), Microsoft Windows 95.

BulletI don't understand why a 386DX is not considered the minimum machine. This is a bit of a mystery. For this review I decided to live dangerously and install the software on my Gateway 386DX/25 with 8 Mb ram. To further push the limit, I was rather low on disk space and used a compression program on my hard drive. Believe it or not, everything seems to be working!

The Applications -

BulletThe Smart Suite package consists of the following components: Lotus Word Pro 96 Edition, Lotus Approach 96 Edition, Lotus Freelance Graphics 96 Edition, Lotus Organizer Release 2.1, Lotus 123 Release 5, and Lotus Screen Cam Release 2.1.

BulletLotus 123 and Lotus Organizer are the 16 bit versions; by registering the product you will be notified when the 32-bit Windows 95 versions of the 2 products become available. The documentation states that these two items are "absolutely free".

BulletThe product comes with a number of manuals and pamphlets; most are relatively brief. The printed info is mainly to help you get the software installed and to obtain a cursory knowledge of the capabilities of the programs. For further information you are referred to the on-line help and the on-line tours.

Online tours...

Bulletare screen shows that walk through some of the features and capabilities of the products. On-line tours exist for Word Pro, Freelance Graphics, 123, and Approach. They are found on the help menu in these applications.

BulletNew users will find the on-line tours informative. Users who favor books and manuals will want to consider purchasing some third-party books to help get up-to-speed.

BulletInstallation proceeded without problem. I performed a custom install and chose to install every component and option available. This took about 147 Mb of real-estate on my hard drive.

BulletFor the remaining part of the review I will list each of the major components of the Smart Suite set and try to say a few words about what I have learned about them.

Lotus Word Pro 96 Edition -

BulletWord Pro 96 is a 32-bit word processor. I am using Word Pro to type in this article for the LilyPad, when I am done with the article I will save it in ASCII format for hand-off to the editor.

BulletWord Pro can import a number of different word-processor formats. The two that I am interested in are WordPerfect format, and HTML (the language of the World Wide Web). I tried importing a WordPerfect document; Word Pro read it in, but I encountered a slight problem: the page did not look exactly as it did in WordPerfect.

BulletFor some reason only two typefaces are currently available to me in Word Pro (Modern and Roman 10 cpi), I suspect that once I figure out how to make more typefaces available that the WordPerfect document import might work better.

BulletAnother strange thing I noticed is that certain characters that extended "below the line" such as g, y, q would sometimes look screwy, the lower portion was not always displayed. I suspect that this might be attributable to the relatively slow machine. I think what was happening was that it was delaying in printing the lower part when I typed fast. Until I install the software on a machine that meets the minimum requirements I cannot complain.

BulletI was able to import HTML documents and view them in a rendered format. I have not found a way to switch between the rendered format and the HTML code (source view).

BulletWith Word Pro you can take a document and export it as HTML. For instance, you can create a resume in Word Pro and export it to HTML. I don't know if the product supports HTML links. If you have a resume and transcript in two separate documents, I don't know if you can create a link from your resume to your transcript. Certainly, you could manually enter this link but that would require that you understand HTML syntax. I did a quick search of the help system but did not find this topic discussed.

BulletWord Pro contains a spelling checker, a grammar checker and a format checker. The format checker lets you check your document for consistent use of spacing between sentences.

Smart Masters -

BulletMany of the Lotus products contain a feature called Smart Masters; in plain English, Smart Masters are templates. There are templates for calendars, invoices, faxes, business plans, memos. In Word Pro if you want to quickly make an invoice for a customer, all you need do is select one of the available invoice templates and just fill in your specific information. You can customize the supplied templates or create your own from scratch.

Team Review -

BulletSome of the Lotus products support a concept that Lotus calls "team review". With Word Pro you can create a document and then hand it off to one or more people for review. The reviewers electronically mark up the document. You can then merge together all the marked up documents and evaluate which changes/suggestions to incorporate. To put this in perspective, you can do the functional equivalent of 1) making eight copies of a document and handing it out to eight people for review (parallel), or 2) Making one copy of a document and attaching a circulation list(serial). I have not personally used this feature. It was explained in the tutorials for Word Pro and Free Lance Graphics.

Lotus Approach 96 Edition -

BulletLotus Approach is a 32 bit database application. Once again my interest in this product was how easy is it to import data created in other products. I was able to successfully import a Paradox for Window 1.0 database. This means that I can remove Paradox from my system and still have access to data created a few years ago. I also tried importing an ASCII file that contained records in comma separated form. No problems were encountered.

Lotus Freelance Graphics 96 Edition -

BulletFreelance Graphics is a presentation package. It lets you create and manage slide shows. As with Word Pro, Freelance Graphics implements the concept of team review. You can build a presentation and then hand it off to other people to review and mark up.

BulletPresentations built in Freelance Graphics can be packaged and distributed with a "Mobile Screen Show Player". The screen show player allows anyone to run the Freelance Graphics presentation even if they do not own Freelance Graphics.

Lotus Organizer Release 2.1 -

BulletOrganizer uses the book paradigm. The Organizer is a loose-leaf binder with sections- Calendar, To Do, Address, Calls, Planner, Notepad and Anniversary. You click on any divider to open up that section of the book. You click on the lower right-hand corner of the right-hand page to advance to the next page. To page backwards you click on the lower left-hand corner of the left-hand page.

BulletIn the Calendar section you add your various activities. For each activity you enter, you are able to program an alarm. The alarm can be an audible alarm, a message or a program you want to run.

BulletThe software allows you to select the calendar arrangement that you are most comfortable working with: day at a time, week at a time, month at a time. With the click of a mouse, you can switch from one view to another. Enter your appointments once, view them in multiple ways- something you can't do with a paper appointment book (without keeping multiple books and redundantly entering the info).

BulletThe "to-do" section lets you keep track of things that you need to do. I have a habit of writing my to-do lists on little pieces of paper, I often misplace the pieces of paper. By storing my to-do list in the computer I can have the best of both worlds. I can have a computer copy that is always up-to-date and available; and I can print out a hard copy to carry around and misplace. I have not started using this yet but I am definitely going to give it a try.

Bullet Each item on the to do list can be given a priority (none, 1, 2, or 3) and a completion status. By default, when you mark an item complete, the completion date is automatically filled in as the current date. Changing the completion date is easy.

BulletTo-do items can be categorized. The product contains a bunch of pre-defined categories. Adding new categories is trivial. It took me literally 30 seconds to add a category called "FROG Computer Club".

BulletThe to-do list can be viewed in a number of ways, by priority, by status, by start date and by category.

BulletThe Address section lets you keep track of a person's contact information (work and home)- address, phone number, fax number, e-mail_ Importing is simple. I used a copy of the FROG Membership Database in comma separated ASCII form and successfully loaded it into the address book.

Lotus 123 Release 5 -

BulletI found the 123 tutorial helpful. I rarely interact with spread sheets; the tutorial, in about 90 minutes, gave me a good set of basic skills that can be used to create spreadsheets. Other than the tutorial I have not used any other part of 123.

Lotus Screen Cam Release 2.1 -

BulletScreen Cam is an interesting product- like having a VCR built into your computer. The VCR allows you to record screen activity and sounds. You can then play the "movie" back. This product is not a keystroke capture/playback product; it captures screen images and audio (if enabled). When you play back the movie you are playing back captured images and sounds, as if you had used a video camera to record your computer monitor while you were working on it.

BulletWhen I installed Corel Draw on this machine, I turned on screen cam and proceeded to capture the Corel Draw installation session. In the middle of the process Screen Cam displayed a message and told me that it was halting the capture process; my hard-drive space was drastically low. The part of the "movie" that I had already captured was saved. If I had sufficient space on my hard drive I have no doubt that the process would have completed uninterrupted. The fact that Screen Cam noticed the space condition and took the action of notifying me is a plus for the product.

BulletTo give you a general idea of the space used by Screen Cam movies, a 9 minute recording took about 190 kilobytes (190,000 bytes). I did not play around with recording audio. It is my understanding that audio from an application can be recorded, or audio can be added after the video is recorded. For example, audio narration can be added to a screen cam movie. This product can be used as a teaching/training tool.

BulletAnother way that I can envision using this product is in doing software testing or software reviews. You can start up Screen Cam and keep a video record for later review. Often when testing, it isn't until you discover a bug that you realize that you should have copied down more info from previous screens. By saving a video of the session you can go back and review the screens that are relevant to the bug.

BulletI would like to see the product enhanced a bit to allow more control when playing back a video. The ability to jump quickly to an arbitrary point in the video would be greatly appreciated. Currently you must hold down the fast-forward button until you get to the part of the "tape" you are interested in viewing.

BulletA Screen Cam video can be saved in an executable format that can be run on a machine that does not have Screen Cam. I am not sure if the resulting executable must be run under Windows 95 (or if it will run under Windows 3.1). I did a quick check of the on-line help and did not see any mention of this.

Lotus Script 3.0 -

BulletSome of the Lotus products support a programming language called Lotus Script. There is no written documentation in the package on Lotus Scriptonly an order form. For $10.00 shipping and handling, they'll send you a copy of the Lotus Script Programmer's Guide and the Lotus Script 3.0 Language Reference.

BulletThe full product of Smart Suite 96 runs about $400. The upgrade price is about $150. One of the local computer stores had a deal recently where you get a $50 rebate on the upgrade. As with everything else, do a little price shopping.


Modem Support: Getting What You Need

June '96 Issue Lilypad p.10, Charles Heisig

[Newsletter of the FROG Computer Society Rochester NY. Non-profit newsletter use permitted with credit, and copy of the results to FROG.]

BulletThe following is a summary of my understanding of the effects of the various Error Correction (EC) and Data Compression (DC) Protocols as defined by various Vxx.x, MNP- and other protocols used by various 9.6, 14.4 and 28.8 kbps MODEMs.

BulletSince this information is assembled from a wide variety of sources of unknown reliability, I am presenting the information as a series of short statements in the hope that readers will comment freely back to me. This will enable me to prepare a reliable paper on the subject suitable for wider distribution.

BulletThe following figure and definitions (From: Bob R., Comm Echo, 03-01-96) define the setup:


Modem Diagram

Pictured above is a brief sketch of a complete signal circuit, consisting of two computers (A & B) interconnected thru their Modems.

Five Definitions -

(as they relate to the above Figure 1)

  • BAUD RATE: The actual rate of signal transitions per second. Since each signal may represent more than one bit, it is not the same as BPS.
  • BPS or Bits Per Second: The number of data bits per second transmitted between two modems. Sometimes incorrectly called the baud rate. (See Baud Rate above)
  • DCE (Data Communication Equipment) rate: The transmission speed of the interface between two modems. The DCE rate and BPS are synonymous.
  • DTE (Data Terminal Equipment) rate: The transmission speed of the interface between a computer/terminal and its modem. Includes the RS-232 Serial ports.
    Baud rate is frequently cited in this interface (as is bps), all of which is depicted on Fig. 1. Note DTE/baud exists on both ends, while DCE/bps is between the modems. DTE is often called the Port area (and Port Speed) since this is where the Serial Ports are.
  • THROUGHPUT: The DCE rate expressed in cps (Characters/second = bytes/sec).

=============

>From Comm Echo [ENVIRO-LINK BBS]

BY; Bob R. 03-01-96 also ref to WYNTKAM.*

=============

Now to list my observations-to-date:

  1. DC and EC protocols are implemented either in hardware HDWP (chips in the modem) or software SFWP (different chips in the modem PLUS the modem software of the computer).
  2. HDWP operate only on the DCE signals transmitted between the modems.
  3. SFWP operate over both the DTE and DCE signals.
  4. The occurrence of errors is much greater in the DCE signals; i.e.. noise on the phone line, than in the DTE signals.
  5. Accurate communication should occur between any two modems obeying the same standard protocol (preferably ITU-TSS V.xx), even though one modem may use HDWP while the other uses SFWP.
  6. All other things being equal, the modem using HDWP will be faster than the one using SFWP, since the latter computer has a greater burden to bear than does the former. This difference will be magnified when DC is done in the modems as opposed to being pre-compressed in the computer to .ZIP etc. files.
  7. A third set of common protocols, known as Rockwell Protocols or RPI, were developed by The Rockwell Corp. in parallel and in conjunction with the V.xx protocols.

    Unfortunately, early versions were adopted, labeled as RPI , VFC etc protocols; and matching hardware (chips) developed and sold before the corresponding V.xx standards were adopted.
  8. Early RPI versions may differ significantly from the final V.xx standards, hus the difficulties experienced when RPI modems try to work with V.xx modems.
  9. Identification of HDWP vs SFWP modems via the specs on the box ranges from impossible to difficult, as manufacturers typically omit this info completely or hide it in the fine print.
  10. Indications of the presence of a SFWP modem include the mention of RPI, VFC, COMIT software_ along with the standard V.xx and MNP- specs, as well as the statement "Software implemented" for EC & DC.
  11. It is my impression that Rockwell is one of the major producers of modem chip sets and produces both SFWP and HDWP versions, so that one cannot view the chip packages and identify the type without a data sheet for the chip set.
  12. The most reliable means of identifying a SFWP modem is to power it up and send ATI3 to it via a modem program. My Logicode Quicktel 1414LH returns the reply:

    V2.200-ACF/ATF_DP ROCKWELL RPI (TM) MODEM+01

    Neither the box in which it was packed nor any of the 3 manuals accompanying the modem include any mention of Rockwell, RPI, Software Implementation etc. All do list all of the appropriate V.xx and MNP- specs. However. I assume from this that it is SFWP.

    I would appreciate comment as to the answers given by HDWP type modems and how to test them via AT commands.
  13. Inspection of numerous boxes of various brands reveals that the data supplied by Logicode is typical of all.
  14. A review of the available Telecom programs reveals the true pitfall of SFWP modems. None of the more commonly used packages, such as Telix, Terminate, etc, support SFWP for DOS. Rockwell has written free drivers to work with various Windows versions, but not for DOS.

    Comment as to the availability of O/S2 and other versions would be appreciated.
  15. Software supporting RPI & SFWP is limited. One reference gives Comit, Some versions of BitCom, QuickLink, Procomm, WinCom. ( Ref. RPIFACTS.TXT)
  16. It is most important to ask the vendor whether the EC & DC protocols are via SFWP or HDWP. Most will not even have a clue. Before you buy, get it in writing!!
  17. HDWP modems are most preferred even though slightly more expensive. Avoid all mentioning RPI or VFC without mention of V.xx and MNP- specs appropriate to your use.

QUESTIONS -

  1. Can anyone name a good reference book discussing the above? I have not been able to find one.
  2. Same for the standard and supplemental AT commands.
  3. Are there other modem programs for DOS, O/S2_ including SFWP for EC & DC?
  4. Are there programs for Internet use, using SFWP?
  5. What other factors have I missed that should be included??
  • All comments are most welcome!!


Random Writes

June '96 Issue Lilypad p.13, Dick Comegys, Editor, The LilyPad

[Newsletter of the FROG Computer Society Rochester NY. Non-profit newsletter use permitted with credit, and copy of the results to FROG.]

BulletIt's been two months now that I've been playing with WordPerfect 6.1. Not playing near enough to make much sense out of it.

BulletOh, I can write a letter all right-- do the things that WordStar's still good for. And writing in WP's GUI environment is neat enough. Not unusual, because I've been doing that for years now in Geoworks' GeoWrite. And that's probably my biggest trouble with WP; I'm just plain spoiled by Geoworks!

BulletWhen Geoworks' 2.0 version came out, I romped over Ray Miller to claim the production of LilyPad pages in Geoworks, to tell about that set of applications. So I thought I'd try the same thing with WordPerfect. Well, I haven't got there yet.

BulletWP's templates provide a Newsletter format; but it's their idea of a newsletter-- not mine! (To be fair about it, it's not bad; but so far I have not been able to match the LilyPad pages-- as I did with Geoworks for the format Ray was then using.)

BulletThe DOS version of WP runs fast on a Pentium-- almost too fast! It's another of those DOS applications that runs rings around Windoze! But too many of the potential resources are in hiding! I've gotten used to seeing lots of tools at-the-ready with GeoWrite (it doesn't have to be set up that way; but it's the way I like it-- lots of options at-the-ready.

BulletI admit-- the format's a lot more helpful than the WordPerfect I instantly hated seven years ago or more: the blank screen just daring me to do anything useful; and not even responding to an F1 for Help! The help is there; and cues me in to the page set-up or style I'm looking for; but it's still a search-- something I don't know if I want to spend the time to get more familiar with.

BulletWhat I'd like to see at this point is what some of you aficionados are doing with this tool, to get out posters or brochures or better. One of the features that intrigues me is being able to put together a two-page-to-a-sheet-of-paper booklet-- and not have to drag around pages to re-arrange them in the proper print-out order!

BulletMeanwhile, I'll keep banging away at it!


BulletOne of FROG's old-timers died the end of March; David Sokolov was an early member-- perhaps one of FROG's founders (we didn't keep very good records back then; we were not aiming for immortality-- just for a little help and cheering-on in getting work out of that miraculous Osborne-01!).

BulletDavid was putting his data-base to use in trying to organize the Perinton-area Democrats-- a worthy-enough objective. And in the course of working through the possibilities of MBasic, developed a sorting process that whizzed through long lists-- even at CP/M speeds. Translated into QBasic for the 386-&-up machines, it's still pretty terrific!


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