Newsletter Comments from SCScompA

Newsletter Date: April 1, 2001

This month's newsletter will be quite short -- and, May's newsletter will not be available until mid-May.

I encourage you to browse earlier SCScompA newsletters if you have not already done so, and to send me any comments/questions/concerns that you may have regarding material presented in these newsletters.

First, another couple of comics from this month. The examples show the result of scanning the comics, moving the scanned image to the Web, and then showing the image as follows. I hope you are taking the advantage of your home computer system's scanner if you have one and sharing information/scanned items with other family and friends. One primary advantage of moving the information to the Web and, in turn, letting your family/friends know the address of the Web information is the friends/family can easily take a look at what you have scanned/placed there at their own convenience. This is sometimes easier/more "polite" than sending them attached documents/pictures.

Yes, you would no doubt use the approach for better uses than comics! However, for examples, sake: Read on.

Two examples of Mis-Communication

I guess we each have been involved in similar situations sometimes in our lives/careers.

In many cases, improving our communication efforts may prove to be a valuable step to take.

I hope you have a good month of using -- and, I wish you have continued success with -- your home computing systems.

Contact me regarding any matter in this newsletter that causes you concern or you want to otherwise discuss.

Dave Shogren
eMail to:


A Few Comments Related to Recent Use of America Online

  • Why Does Dave Shogren Use America Online?

    The following comments are not intended as a "sales pitch" for America Online. They are, just, comments I give to customers I am working with who are about to select a home user - oriented Internet/Web provider. If you are not interested in this topic, just skip by this newsletter item!

    Those of you who follow my newsletters, know that I bring up the subject of America Online (AOL) quite a bit. I am sometimes asked "Why do you use America Online?".

    I answer with a few comebacks, as follows:

    • The connectivity works well, for me. I rarely (once, in the past two years) have not been able to get online the first time I try (on one of the available numbers) in Raleigh North Carolina, USA.

    • Once AOL brought out a version of its support that runs well on Windows 2000 Professional and its predecessor Windows NT, I have zero problems with Web page connectivity and use. eMail and matters related to email continue to run well.

      Having usable support for my use of the Internet/Web/eMail on windows 2000 Professional is duplicated, in my case, with Windows Millennium.

      As a result, I always recommend America Online for new home PC users I am working with.

    • The "Preferences" part of AOL, where the user can choose options (such as the Marketing path, where you can ask AOL to bother you as little as possible with popup panels and other Web/Internet marketing techniques) is quite thorough and seems to work as advertised (in my opinion!).

    • The seven screen name possibility is managed quite well by AOL. The user of a certain screen name is somewhat "isolated" from other screen names.

    • The "My FTP Place" space on the server provided by AOL works fine. The space is quite reasonable and the approach AOL has for providing access to the space is usable. Try it, if you have not!

      Yes, to get the full advantage of this space your friends/family will see some marketing banners at the top of the Web page. I can live with this!

    Let me know if you have any views/opinions/comments on "Why should or Should NOT someone use AOL?".

    If you are not an AOL user: OK! I am not telling every home user to use AOL. I, just, am happy with AOL and can recommend it.

Contact SCScompA regarding the above discussion: I am interested in your comments and in knowing if the topic fits your needs.

This Month's Example of Viewing Scanned and/or Digital Camera Pictures using HTM (Web page) parameters.

In many of my newsletters, I show a few examples of using an HTM-type approach at sharing photographs or other material including scanned images with family/friends.

To see this month's example click on: This Month's Photograph Examples from SCScompA.


Don't hesitate to contact with any comments on the above or for any related discussion.

Miscellaneous Comments Regarding Home Computer Use Matters that Came Up in March

  • Miscellaneous matters.

    I only mention the following items in brief. If you want more information or to discuss any of the items in more detail with me, don't hesitate to contact me by eMail.

    • A good Web page I used this month:

      I wanted to follow the progress of the weather in Scotland, since I am heading that way in April. There are a number of Web pages you can use to check the weather around the world, but I find the following the best for my purposes:

      Their Web page is nicely organized and easy to use.

      If you are not familiar with, see if you can find the next ten day's weather in Edinburgh Scotland, for example.

    • I leave my AOL connected while I am working, since telephone costs are not an issue in my locale/situation (I have a second line active for my AOL/Internet/Web use, and do not tie up the normal home phone with my AOL/Internet/Web work -- and, phone connection costs are not an issue in this part of the USA).

      I minimize (using Windows) the AOL panel, leaving it in the Windows background and use the AOL sound option for alerting me if an eMail arrives.

      AOL sound is controlled by the button off of the AOL path:

    • Settings-->Preferences-->Toolbar & Sounds

      In there, is a box you can enable or choose to not enable AOL sounds. If you don't want the sounds, turn them off!

    • Also, with regards to AOL: Remember to back up the AOL "organize" folder once in awhile. I do that on a regular basis. I back it up to offline storage such as a ZIP disk. In some cases you could even use a 3 1/2" floppy storage approach.

      I also "back up" the AOL organize folder by copying it to my secondary machine: A laptop. On the laptop is a version of AOL that I use with the laptop -- but, the main AOL I have is on my home PC.

      Copying the organize folder from the main PC to the laptop "destroys" the laptop's AOL organize folder -- but, it brings to the laptop the saved eMail and favorites I want from the PC to the laptop.

      Why backup/save the AOL organize folder? A few reasons:

      • To allow you to recreate the saved eMail files, your address books, and your favorites if you have to reinstall AOL for some reason.

      • To allow you to keep multiple PCs (in my case, a main PC and a laptop) in synch with regards to saved eMail files, your address books, and favorites.

    Contact me if you have need of additional information or otherwise want to discuss any of the above items in more detail.

  • Maintenance matters that came up this month.

    A few items:

    If you install a new version of AOL and you have a current/"old" version of AOL you want your AOL preferences copied over to the new AOL version: You specify that you want to upgrade from the old to the new. OK.

    • The upgraded AOL does not copy-over your preference for WWW Graphics. It always assume you want AOL to compress your graphics. If you are "happy" with the graphics/pictures that you see from AOL (such as photos shown off of the SCScompA Web page you are reading now), OK!

      If, however, the graphics/photographs appear fuzzy, it could be that turning off the AOL compression feature will help clear things up. Photos that are downloaded for your immediate display with AOL will take longer to download/see if you do not use compressed graphics -- but, the displayed photo is normally clearer and worth waiting the extra time!

      If you are an AOL user, you can check the option currently in place on your system by going to the AOL path:
      Settings-->Preferences-->Inernet Properties (WWW)-->Web Graphics

    • I have downloaded/installed the latest JASC PaintShop Pro no-charge maintenance and it installed fine -- and, so far, has performed well. Give it a try if you are a PaintShop Pro user and have not had a chance to download/install their latest recommended maintenance.

      I recommend you always upgrade to the latest maintenance of key products on your system once a year or so.

    • As I mentioned in earlier newsletters, I keep my primary-use home PC continually powered on when I not traveling. A few of you have mentioned that this is energy-wasteful. I agree.... but, I turn off peripheral devices when I am not using them (video/display unit, printer, and scanner in my case). Plus, naturally, if I am traveling for two days or more and other family members will not be using the main PC, I power off.

      Leaving your PC powered on and "ready to go" does not mean you are connected to the Internet/Web "all the time" (there are some exceptions to this... if you are on a cable TV connection, for example). If you are on cable TV connection or for some other reason your primary-use home PC is connected to the Internet/Web whenever powered up, then security concerns may come up. Discuss this matter with some PC person you trust. And: Keep backups of your personal data and other matters that are "on" your PC and you would not like to recreate!

      There have been a few articles, recently, on "power" concerns/approaches for home PC users. In the recent Mpls. Star-Tribune Web page was this one (the author was: Hiawatha Bray of the Boston Globe):

      Thanks to the Mpls. Star-Tribune and to Hiawatha Bray of the Boston Globe for the following article. It is included here simply to save you time from going off to a linked-to Web page. Just browse-on by if you are not interested!

      Time to idle the computers?

      Hiawatha Bray Boston Globe Sunday, April 1, 2001

      I'm feeling nostalgic, in a dismal sort of way. The economy hasn't looked this bad since Bush the First barfed in the Japanese prime minister's lap. And the last time Americans fretted so much about energy shortages, there was a law-abiding Democrat in the White House.

      Our energy market is taking on a distinctly bell-bottomed look. As in the 1970s, Americans cling to their gas-guzzling battlewagons even as OPEC slashes oil output to drive up prices. And once again, Californians are having an especially hard time of it. Only this time, the trouble begins when they park their comfy, well-equipped sport-utes and step into their blacked-out, powerless homes.

      There were no personal computers during the original energy crisis. These days they use lots of juice, though fortunately not as much as some pundits have argued. In 1999, a researcher for a coal industry group estimated that computers were chewing up 13 percent of all U.S. electricity demand. Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab demurred. They say it's more like 3 percent, but that's still a lot of power.

      Put it this way: Your typical computer, the box that does the humming and buzzing, uses around 40 watts or so. The monitor is much more power-hungry. We're talking 100 watts for a classic cathode-ray tube. This falls to around 30 watts for one of those flashy flat-panel displays, but they're expensive and still pretty rare.

      So your typical PC ends up burning about 140 watts. Convert to kilowatts, multiply by the hours in a year, and if you're paying 8 cents per kilowatt-hour, you get an annual electric bill of around $100. That's not a king's ransom, but it's not a free lunch either. And if you're like me, there are two or three PCs under your roof, all burning watts.

      This assumes that the computer is running full tilt, around the clock. Lots of us never switch them off, especially those with full-time high-speed Internet access. But most of the time, the computer's just wasting juice.

      There's always standby, of course. Idle computers can turn down the power to the monitor, the processor, even the hard drives. It's all still turned on, ready for quick action, but using only a fraction of full power.

      This'll save you and me a bit of change, but our computers are still a burden on the electrical grid. And they're not alone. According to Alan Meier, a staff scientist at the Berkeley Lab, there are a couple of dozen devices in the average home that run on standby. Even when they're switched off, they're on, ready to respond instantly to your commands. That cable TV set-top box? It's on. Your VCR? It's on. The microwave too.

      Add this to millions of dormant computers, and fully 5 to 7 percent of residential electricity use goes to these standby devices. It's the equivalent of leaving a 60-watt bulb going round the clock in every American home.

      I give my monitor the day off when I'm at work, but the computer itself is running that SETI@home screensaver that searches for life on other worlds. So it came as a shock when I saw this message on the SETI@home Web site: "Do not keep your computer on if the only purpose for doing so is to run the SETI@home screensaver." The participating scientists are based in California, and they've learned to cherish every kilowatt, aliens or no aliens.

      Meier endorsed the sentiment, and urged me to turn off all my computers when I leave the house. The idea that it's better for them to be left running is an old wives' tale, he said. Actually, powering down saves wear and tear on the hard drive, and encourages you to do something besides play Age of Empires in your spare time. "It's better for your family life, it's better for your social life and it's better for your computer," Meier said.

      In the 2001 of my childhood fancies, switching off a computer would be unthinkable, even perilous. ("Open the bathroom door, Hal." "I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave.") In the real 21st century, it may become imperative. We only thought the millennium had come. In fact, we may be reliving that sour age when a nation donned lime-green leisure suits and swapped its Buick Electra 225 land yachts for Toyota Corollas. If George W. Bush starts wearing a cardigan and lecturing us about sacrifice, I'm out of here.
      Thanks to the Mpls. Star-Tribune and to Hiawatha Bray of the Boston Globe for the above article. It was included here simply to save you time from going off to a linked-to Web page.

      Reminder from SCScompA: Make certain you have your main PC connected to battery backup/surge protector as often as possible.

    • Another article in this month's Technology section of the Mpls. Star-Tribune was from Larry Blasko of the Associated Press discussing "dust and your computer" (keeping the PC clean!). I went to the search portion of the Star-Tribune to see if they saved the article (it appeared on March 13) but could not find it. If you want a copy of the article, let me know and I can send it to you by eMail or, according to the Star-Tribune articles from Larry Blasko, you can contact him at:

    Have a good, maintenance-free time until we talk again.

Contact SCScompA if you have any comments or questions about the above.


Freecell Game/Deal of the Month

We continue, in our household, doing Freecell deals from 1-to-32000! We will NOT accomplish this task. We know that. However, as we go along in our for-fun-effort, yet frustration... I will mention once in awhile specific Freecell deals we find challenging.

Note: If you are running your PC on Windows 98, it is possible you have to specifically install Freecell. Just install Accessories/Games.

Let me know if this Freecell game and the number of times we had to restart to solve the deal is about what you find. If you are going to attack deals 1-to-32000 and want to interact with us in that regard, let me know what thousand-or-so you are going to start with. We have completed deals through 1200. Now, we are attacking 1001-to-2000 and I would recommend you start with 2001! At the rate we are going (a little more than 100 deals a month) it will only take us 24 more years to complete the 32000 deals without your help. If you let us know what you have completed, it will take us less time!

I am adding to this column in the newsletter a few "easy" games that we found during the month.

    Deals we completed in one start and view as "easy"-but-still-fun games this month:

  • Freecell Deal Numbers: 1901, 1919
  • Other deals we found interesting-and-not-too-hard this month (number of times to restart is in parentheses):

  • Freecell Deal Numbers: 1913(1), 1918(2), 1913(3)
  • A different type of deal was:

  • Freecell Deal Number: 1917.
    Number of times I had to re-start to complete in lost-count moves: 3

    A tough set of deals, reported to you in last month's newsletter, are deals: 1935-thru-1941. It took us seven restarts to complete the seven deals with three of the seven deals requiring no restarts(fourteen deals, in all). If you try this stretch of seven deals, let me know if you can complete the seven deals with less than a total of fourteen deals and how many of the seven deals you complete without a restart.

    Deal 598 continues to be the most difficult one we found in deals 1-1006.

    Deal 1123 is the easiest deal, in our opinion, that we have found so far.

Let me know how YOU do!

If you want to see our list of Freecell Deals 1-thru-what we are working on now and our comments on how many times we had to restart the deal to find a solution, let me know -- or click on: SCScompA Freecell Table of Completed Deals

To contact me about anything on this Web page, please: send mail to:

Or send snail-mail to:

P.O. Box 58223
Raleigh NC 27658


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