Vol 14 #11 1996
The journal can be purchased for $1.50 at many local stores.
The following selected articles from this months Lilypad/Insight newsletter can be seen here in their entirety:
RCC Newsletter Quick Jump
This month we passed a milestone, the first combined meeting! For many months the officers and members of both clubs have been working towards that event. We were working on the combination from a high level, not getting into the myriad of finite details. Our feeling was, that if we can agree on the big issues, the small ones will fall into place. Now is the time to start to face many of those details. Both clubs had distinct policies and procedures. This is a great opportunity for us to reconsider and re-engineer policies that may no longer fit either of the former groups' needs. The number one thing that needs to be considered, though, is what the club is all about. The basic purpose is user helping user. Each of us has an experience or knowledge that can help someone else.
Next month we will be getting a report on the first meeting of the Internet SIG.. I have had several conversations with Tom Walters, SIG leader, and other interested members. I expect this will be a far reaching SIG and it will be interesting to see the directions it goes in. I recommend you check it out..
It's also time to start planning for our winter "Gatherings". Tentative plans are for one to be held at Anson Chong's "clubhouse", and the other to be held at our summer picnic site, the lodge at Brighton Town Park. "Gatherings", for those of you who haven't experienced one, are a combination social, potluck dinner, garage sale, SIG Show and Tell, and educational event. In other words, just about anything you want to make of it. It has been a good opportunity for members to get to know each other beyond the structure of a meeting.
The BBS is mostly up. I haven't had a chance to talk to Paul, and have talked to Nick only a few times. Nick and I noted that since it was running on Win95 it was up about 95% of the time. However, I have heard from several members that it is up and running. The last few weeks I have been tied up with an unruly computer and Stu's football games and I have yet to get on. If this gets in the newsletter, I will have made it.
Buy New or Upgrade
This month I'm going to talk about what I think would be good to have in a computer if you plan to buy one or upgrade in the next few months. It will be in two sections: what you would want to get for a work computer, and what you would want to have for a home computer. The work computer will mostly do programs like software suites and use multimedia software. The home computer will mostly do games and be able to play full motion video, play complex games and 3D video Processors. Finally, what you want to get in a computer.
First the work machine: I recommend a 120-166 MHz Pentium processor. I would get a 133MHZ Pentium, but I am not ruling out a 166 because the prices might go down on them. I strongly recommend against getting a sub-120 Pentium processor, unless you can't afford a 120+ processor. The prices are going down a lot on sub-120MHz processors, but they are a lot slower than a 120. The prices are going down on sub-120 processors so much that a 60 MHz chip that appeared to be lined with gold was only $40 at MarketPro. If you buy a Cyrix, first make sure that it is a 6x86 chip not a 5x86 chip, because a 5x86 chip is a 486 not a Pentium.
Second the fan: Buy the fan made by Cyrix because they heat up and might get burnt up, which means that they won't work any more. Unless you have a network, there really isn't a point in getting a Pentium Pro; it runs everything in 64-bit sections. It does everything a lot faster, but if you play even one DOS game, it will be a lot slower than a Pentium.
Memory: First, how much memory you need depends on what you want to do. If you just do word processing and run Windows 95, then 16 meg will be fine; but if you are making graphics then you should get 32 meg. If you have a Pentium, check to see what ram chips your motherboard will hold. Most motherboards run 72 pin chips and you will want to get EDO chips. To see if you really have EDO chips, see if you can read EDO on the chip. If you go to a MarketPro Show and see a table that has a RAM tester, then you might want to think about that table more than the table across the room that has the door open and all their memory getting showered with dirt. What the RAM tester does is basically see if the chip does respond when it talks to it. My dad just bought another 16 meg and we haven't put it in yet but I will tell you how much faster it is when we put it in.
Hard Drive: Here you pretty much just want the biggest drive that you can get. I like Western Digital, but I haven't really tried anything else. Right now I would suggest 1.6 gig hard drive, or a minimum of a 1 gig hard drive.
CD-ROM: Now you can't use most of your programs without a CD-ROM. I personally think that right now getting a 6x would be a smart buy. If you really want to have the leading edge get a 10x, but do not get a "12x" because there are no CD-ROM's that transfer information that fast, it is just the drives that make it as fast as a 12x would be.
Video Card: This is the most important card on your system aside from the motherboard. This device lets you see everything on the screen. I would get a PCI board with 2 to 4 meg VRAM. I don't like anything made by Diamond, many people have come to my Dad saying that they have had problems with the Diamond cards, also some have said that it works for them. I say stay away from them, but if you go and buy one, make sure that it will work with your computer. I will get into more detail next month on what the problems are specifically.
Monitor: With the monitor that you get see what the dot pitch is, i.e. 28mm. A good size to get is 28mm or less on a 15 inch monitor to 17 inch monitor and 29mm or less on a 19 inch or bigger monitor. Also see what the maximum viewable size on the monitor is. If the monitor is a 15 inch, then anything lower then 13 inch viewable screen is not a good buy unless it is very cheap, on a 17 inch anything under 15 inch viewable screen is not that good. I do not know what is a good screen viewable screen on a 19-21 inch monitor is, but it should be between 16 to 19 inches. If you find anything that is a bigger viewable screen then I said, it is probably a really good buy, but make sure what the dot pitch on the monitor is. Right now I would say buy a 17 inch monitor.
Sound Card: With sound cards pretty much what you get is a 100% compatible Sound Blaster card. It should be a 16-bit card, not 32-bit. Then if you want to have a really good sound card, a wavetable Daughterboard on it wouldn't hurt. If you don't know if the card is a 100% Sound Blaster compatible card buy a Sound Blaster card.
Modems: Now this is a problem. The first question to ask yourself is what are you going to use. Are you going to go on the Internet and go on VRML pages or are you going to go on the Pond (or whatever we will call it when we merge with PC3) BBS? You probably will want to get a 28.8 modem if you want to go on the Internet or a BBS. I have a Cardinal brand modem. The nice thing with these modems is that if you have the right init codes you can go on the Internet at 115200Bytes per second. That might not sound very fast but is fast when you connect at a 28800.
So long As you have seen I have not gone over what the game computer should have in it, I'll go over that next month. I would like to thank the people at PC Gamer for giving me the idea for this review. Bye for now.
Everyday Home Repairs
From the Black & Decker 'How Things Get Done' CD-ROM...
This program is an interactive multimedia presentation of home repairs tips aimed at the skill level of the average Do It Your Selfer. It comes on a CD-ROM which includes a built in tutorial on how to operate the program.
The operating program installs easily on your hard drive. System requires: PC(25MH486), 8MB RAM, a 2x CD ROM drive, Windows 3.1 or higher, a 256 color monitor, 2MB hard drive space, a sound board and speakers, and a mouse.
The program has easy solutions for over 100 common household problems. The material is presented with animations, slide shows with voiceover, step-by-step color photograhs and highlighted text.
The program was simple to learn and operate. The material presented was well done and entertaining. The material included is not thorough enough to use on any home construction projects.
The New User Group got off to a great start on October 1st, led by Peter Moore and hosted by Henrietta Media Play. There was some confusion over the starting time stated as 6:PM and 6:30PM in the Lily Pad and as 7:PM on a sign at Media Play so things started informally. As the group size grew, they moved from a sign in/refreshments table to chairs Media Play had set up around a moderator's table. In addition to coffee, donuts and cookies, Media Play donated 4 software packages and a selection of music CD's for use as door prizes. They also offered group members a one night, 10% discount on non sale items. Some late arrivals did not sign in but the group size was estimated at 12-15 people.
Several of the early questions centered on internet: service providers; browser choices etc. Peter observed that potential users should know what they want from the web and why they want it. Without answers to these basic questions for any hardware or software acquisition it is difficult to evaluate alternatives. He mentioned several providers and pointed out that for some, demand is outgrowing capability which leads to very slow response times and in some cases system blackouts. The best response time seems to be in the wee hours of the morning, before corporate America wakes up.
There was a discussion of 3 character file suffixes based on the question of whether they are industry standards. Peter likened them more to common practices which are not enforced by anybody. For example TXT files normally contain only letters, numbers and punctuation. Files from most word processing programs usually include formatting information such as type face and size, and printer codes and might have a suffix such as DOC, or WPS assigned by the software. The file creator can often override the software assignment thus negating any common practice.
Files can also be renamed though that would not modify any formatting data embedded in the file. Some word processing software may be capable of writing files in multiple formats with different extensions such as ASC or TXT or programs may be available to convert from one format to another. Any program which utilizes the Windows file dialog box to access files should initially show acceptable suffixes for that program.
There was a question of how to get help with DOS. Peter suggested a book called DOS for Dummies (readily available at Media Play) and went on to describe ways to get on screen help with DOS 5 or DOS 6. Typing a command followed by a slash and question mark will display the syntax of the command including the allowable parameters or switches. Within DOS 6, typing help followed by the command will produce a help screen with much more information than just the syntax. Peter went on to say that help in Windows 95 is somewhat different
There was a discussion of Zip and Unzip, a compression technology that reduces file size thereby taking up less disk space and shortening transmission time. This is not built into Windows 95 but Peter suggested clicking the start button and then going to find and typing Zip which would search the hard drive and list any file with zip in its name. If there are no Zip utilities, versions for DOS, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, MAC and UNIX, are available from many bulletin boards, including the Pond, internet and other public forums for the cost of down loading.
One member described a problem in trying to send faxes in which only the cover sheet was transmitted. Following the error message instructions, he has reloaded the fax software several times to no avail. Peter suggested using Windows 95 control panel to see if the fax software could be uninstalled that way. After that, use Defrag to consolidate all files and ScanDisk to check for a bad spot on the hard drive.
Reinstalling the Fax software would put it in a different place and replace all the associated files such as INI or insertions in BAT or COM files. This also led to the disclosure that Word Perfect version 6 contains fax software and that fax/modem software provides fax capability without the need for a fax reader/printer.
At 7:30, Peter graciously announced that he had nothing pressing to do so he would entertain other questions from the group or address very specific topics with the individuals involved. A question was raised about deleting files. It stemmed from a short list of recently accessed files in Microsoft Works which is not kept in the directory but another list which is not affected by file delete instructions. This leads to confusion about whether the file has or has not really been deleted.
The tape recorder and memory failed simultaneously long before the questions ran out about 8:30. Our thanks to Peter for his generous donation of time and knowledge that makes us look forward to the next meeting which will be in the same place of the first Tuesday in November.
Book Review: "Work Like A Pro With Word For Windows 95" By Mike Murach (Mike Murach & Associates) List: $25.00
First of all, I should admit that I hadn't really studied the title of the book closely--I thought it said "Work Like a Pro with Windows 95" and of course there's nothing I'd rather do than bring my Windows 95 skills up to a professional level. Therefore this review reflects the opinions of a user of WordPerfect as to the value of a book on Microsoft Word!
The book was published in 1996. According to the "opening credits," there are several other books available from this author, including those pertaining to various versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, and Lotus 1-2-3, mostly using Windows 3.1 (the only other book based on Windows 95 published to date is for Excel).
The overall layout of the book is excellent, with illustrations on each page to show just how the screen should look and what steps should be taken to get your own screen to look like the picture. The first 40-page section is titled: "Prerequisites: The Essential Windows 95 Skills." As I read through this section, I couldn't help wishing this information had been close at hand when I first installed Windows 95 over a year ago. All the procedures were spelled out very clearly, and I even learned some of the correct terminology, including the difference between the scroll box and the scroll bar (which I have used, but never named correctly).
And how many of us, other than our favorite gurus, know what the "notification area," "spin boxes," "focus," etc. are? All the Windows terms are italicized the first time they are used, with references to an illustration on the same page showing just where on the screen they are located, and an outline as to how they should be used.
As I progressed into the chapters pertaining to Word for Windows 95, I decided to try to follow along and see how much of the information would be applicable to my newly installed WordPerfect 7. Each chapter has exercises to perform, so it made sense to see how much could be done using another word processing program. It soon became apparent that there are more similarities than differences between the two programs. The menu bars are very much alike, and the instructions and hints were useful to anyone using either of these programs. There are chapters on formatting, styles, tables, mail merges, etc. There is even an appendix listing the Word 7 features that are not presented in this book, such as equations, indexing, and object linking.
Certainly anyone who is contemplating an upgrade to Word 7 for Windows 95 should find this book an invaluable source of information. In fact, if there should be future books in this series relating to the software programs and versions I use, I'm sure I would make an effort to buy them. Remember the name "Mike Murach" when you're looking for supplementary reference material!
I've since "graduated" to other machines and software, and the process of learning is truly wondrous and fascinating. I doubt I could have succeeded even half as well without the public library, second-hand bookstores, garage sales and ShareWare. As has every other user I know, I've managed to collect an array of books, disks and videos on computers. It's now time to pass some of this along.
Announcement! The library has come out of its comas and is re-entering the land of the living! Planned resources include: software, computer-related videos, books on a wide range of subjects and a general information source base. Many of these services can be found on the internet and/or BBS's and as the library grows, new directions will depend on the needs of the membership. Though many of us are online, many others are either not yet connected or don't care to be and the library will provide a source of programs and information not otherwise readily available.
The library's services are just one of the many perks of club membership. There will be a nominal charge for some services such as copying ShareWare, etc. in an effort to protect all our systems.
EVERY DISKETTE HANDLED BY THE LIBRARY WILL BE VIRUS PRTECTED. Eventually the library itself will go online and members will be able to request (as a service) whatever elusive and esoteric information they need, but don't have the time and/or energy to chase down.
Have you trashed that one file you need and learned it hasn't been available since 1983? Hey, ask the librarian! Need a week to study the book CREATING WEB PAGES FOR DUMMIES (WITH CD-ROM)? Ask the librarian. Need to know how to make your word processing prgram spell check? The librarian just might know
By nature librarians love digging for information and while we can't guarantee sucess, we can promise one hell of a try. Some of our resources may seem almost museum pieces at times, but when YOU need a copy of just that one little DOS file, you'll be relieved and thrilled to know it's so easily available.
All this is going to take time and organization. I'm pleased and excited to accept donations you wish to share with the group as well as YOUR ideas and suggestions to make your library usable, interesting and truly helpful. YOUR interest, involvement, donation and help is blatantly solicitedand greatly appreciated.
I'll keep you updated monthly on what's available to you and how some of the larger projects are going. The library needs and wants the personal involvement and interaction of each SIG and each member. One of the functions of the library will be to facilitate orientation to the many and varied services of the user's group at large. As such, new members are most encouraged to seek out library services as an introduction to the group.
The library's very first donation has come via Mr.Robert Frank who handed me a piece of rectangular something covered with techno-shapes and two phone jacks on the side. Says he: "Marty says you need one of these."
Well, I was pleased and very appreciative, but just had to ask the truly pertinent question. "Thanks, but what is it?" Bob, bless his heart, didn't laugh. "It's a modem," he said. Obviously there's room for all of us on the learning continuum of a computer user's group. That goes double for the library.
My telephone number is 865-3837 and since I don't answer it before noon, there's always an answering machine on. See me at meetings. I'll be learning right along with you and since I'm no techno-whiz, I can't possibly give you an answer or suggestion beyond the layperson's basic understanding. I can, however, introduce you to an application, video, book or real live person who might have all the answers and then some!
Stay in touch!
My good fortune at the last meeting to find myself the winner of a review copy of Windows 96 was indeed timely. As a long time Quicken user and recent convert to Windows 95 I was anxious to get my financial records in the Windows environment. After installing Quicken in Windows 95 I looked in the manual for information on how to get my DOS files converted and into the new Windows version. The only mention of how to move files from one computer to another is to use the Backup and Restore options in Quicken. This procedure copies your Quicken account files to a floppy as a backup and then restores them back to your hard drive if needed. In the present case this means using the backup floppy to restore the account into the new Windows version.
When I tried to do this in Windows 95 by calling up the Restore option, a little window appeared and displayed 4 files (the same as shown by the DOS 'dir' command). The problem is that you can only select one file and when you indicate 'OK' it restores only the one file and then gives an error message: 'some data files are missing'. After several tries I decided it was time to call Intuit's Technical Support line.
Technical Support is not a toll-free number, but the only charge is for the call itself and their hours are such that you can call in early evening and get the lower rates for your call. I had only a short wait to get to talk to a real Technical Support person who knew his business and was able to talk me through the procedure in a very knowledgeable and courteous way and a minimum of time. It required my getting to the DOS prompt in Windows 95 and copying the files into the QUICKENW directory using the DOS copy command. Getting back into Windows 95, Quicken was able to find the files and convert them into the necessary format for the Windows version.
Someone from Intuit called back within an hour and asked if would mind giving a critique of my session with Technical Support. I was pleased to be able to give the young man who worked with me an excellent rating. I also mentioned it would be helpful for users of older versions of Quicken to have more information on how to make the conversion to Windows.
I have been very reluctant to begin 'doing Windows', but found if I wanted to do some of the neat new things that make using a computer fun, as well as more useful, it would be necessary to make the change.
The switch from Quicken DOS to Quicken 96 for Windows 95 certainly makes using it easier and more interesting for me, and getting the program free for writing this review was really 'the frosting on the cake'. This is the first review I have submitted and it wasn't as tough to do as I anticipated. If you are looking for a way to manage your personal finances on a computer I can recommend Quicken for Windows 95 as an excellent option. There are many additional features I have yet to try that will make it even easier and more useful, but the time constraints of getting this review in on time preclude exploring them at this time.
As a matter of fact, a user could exit Windows, then delete/modify the application files from DOS (or just boot to DOS and modify the .INI file to prevent Times Up from loading in the first place). Not a highly secure package, but maybe good enough for a basic home user control.
The setup is basically a three-step process. First, you define the users. A user can be defined as permanent or visitor. Users can be placed into groups to assign the same level of control to multiple users.
Second, you select the programs you want to control. The application scans your machine for executables. This scan is not comprehensive, and you cannot manually add programs that were skipped. You can combine the discovered programs into groups (e.g. "games", "Internet", "graphics", etc.).
Third, you then select the user or user group and set the control limit to a particular program group. You can limit access by day of the week (e.g. weekend only), time periods per day (e.g. between 7-9 pm), or a daily time limit (e.g. 2 hrs per day). The users (i.e. kids), sign on with their user name and password and the Times-Up application, running in the background monitors and controls the use. When your allotted time is up, you get a two-minute warning; after the two minutes, you are logged off automatically. (This could cause some problems with open files.) The administrator, or "Time Manager" can modify these settings at any time. The Time Manager has the option of resetting who are logged out, as well as resetting passwords (actually, it deletes the password, then at logon you have to enter a password).
The installation is straightforward, and the interface is OK. I've been running this on a 386SX machine under Windows 3.11. I'm not certain if this is Win95 compatible product.
General impressions: it's OK for a fairly simple access control program. It is not suitable for anything more than a basic home use. It only controls access to programs; it doesn't control access to files. For example, I would like to give my kids unlimited access to Word, but not allow them access to my documents. There are other ways of doing that, but it would be nice to have it all wrapped into one program.
It's probably safe to say this isn't be my kid's favorite program. It's not exactly foolproof --while testing it out, I let myself time out. At the log out screen (shows a big stick of dynamite exploding), I rebooted. When I logged in again, I got a time-out message that some files were corrupted. The message says probably due to rebooting rather than a clean log out. It then automatically restores the last copy of the control files (.DBF files). The copy is prior to the last login activity--hence I could log back in again--in effect resetting my clock limits. Not quite industrial strength security.
There is an option to turn Time's Up off --only problem is it doesn't work. After setting it to be "off" and rebooting, I was still prompted to log in. I couldn't log in because I got a message saying that Time's Up was turned off, and I had to turn it on before it would let me log in. The easiest work around is to comment out the Win.INI line that loads the program.
I then tried to Uninstall. To its credit, an icon is added for uninstalling--not bad for a WIn 3.x program. Problem is it doesn't work. (Maybe it works for Win 95, but not for Win 3.11). Didn't clean up the .INI files --when rebooted, I got errors because it couldn't find .DLL files to load. Also after unloading, the system hung, saying to log out of Times Up (which had been deleted at this time). It didn't even undelete the original installation files and directory.
Bottom line: this is not the most sophisticated program around, and it can be fairly easily defeated. It's not a foolproof security/access control application, but it can do an acceptable job of giving you some control over your family's access to your system.
FROG/PC3 Web Page
The newest thing on the web page is it's name. It was the "FROG Computer Society" home page, however now that FROG and PC3 have merged we need a new handle. Actually the webpage name "FROG Computer Society" wasn't derived at via a long thought out process, come to think of it, there was no process, we just sort'a went with the club name. I guess we were so busy thinking about getting the page up, we didn't stop to think up one of those neat catchy names like "CyberFrog" or "Frog of the Month Club", or something.
But... things are different now, with the merge and all, this would be a good time to "have at it" and come up with a name. But... maybe we should wait to see what the members come up with for the new club name, assuming that is, that all the members aren't slaughtered during the renaming process in which case we no longer would need a name, just a resting place, which would be easy to name: RIP.
We're open to any ideas that you may have regarding the renaming of "your" web site. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a note to me (:-Jim Kane-:) on the BBS.
What about the web site? Well I'd like to welcome all the PC3 members or (PC)^3 if you prefer, and let you know, as well as the other members, that we're ready to put a link to your home page on the FROG/PC3 web page, just provide the link address and a few descriptive sentences. We will also put up your favorite web site (assuming it doesn't reflect badly on the club; we'll have to figure out where to draw that squiggly line) if you provide the address and a couple of sentences telling a little about the site.
If you do not have internet access but would like to give it a shot, attend the upcoming Internet SIG meeting on October 24th at Vivanet in Henrietta (contact Tom Walters or myself for details). This is the kickoff or first meeting so we'll all be "newbies". All you need to get on the internet is the desire (and a couple of bucks), members will help you with the rest.
There are many other goodies on the web site, like upcoming meetings, feature articles from the Lilypad/Insight, many dyn-o-mite links, and more. Go there and check it out! Use the online form to let us know what you think about your homepage! The net is calling me, gotta go.
Nov '96 Issue Lilypad/Insight p.16, Shirley Wager
[Newsletter of the FROG Computer Society Rochester NY. Non-profit newsletter use permitted with credit, and copy of the results to FROG.]
Shirley Wager is a member of the Greece Baptist Chirch mission board, is looking for used (and workable) 286 or 386 PC's for the Northern Haiti Christian University, an americian Baptist affilate. The university's computer department, is upgrading from 8088 to 286s and 386s. Their dream is to eventually have PCs capable to handling Windows, but in the mean time they urgently need 286s and 386s to handle burgeoning student demand.
Shirley will prepare verification papers of your donation on official church stationary should you require it for IRS tax deduction purposes.
To make a donation, or for more information call Shirley at 436-9120.
Anson Chong sent me this appeal, our bylaws say that one of our goals is to help groups or individuals solve their computer problems.
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