Newsletter Comments from SCScompA

Newsletter Date: December 20, 2005

Welcome to my newsletters.

I have given up any hope of getting these newsletters out monthly. How often will be they be "delivered"? Well.... once in awhile.

The image above, right, is an image that I captured off the Web on Sept. 18, 2005. The image was shown by an AOL (America Online) news' item pointed to from AOL's Welcome screen. The image description was:

I use the image later-on in this newsletter for an example as part of this newsletter.

I also enjoyed/appreciated the view of nature as provided by the above: Thanks!

From a home computing point of view --

Many of you may have just started down the path of home computing, and if you are in that set of people: I encourage you to browse earlier SCScompA newsletters if you have not already done so.

All of you: Don't hesitate to send me any comments/questions/concerns that you may have regarding material presented in these newsletters.

Let's begin, as usual, the newsletter with a couple of scanned (I use an Epson Perfection 4180 Photo scanner) comics. (I show these as a sample of scanning material and using the results of the scanning process. The scanned image has been adjusted with PaintShop Pro. For example, the scanned material ends up in the computer with a "grayness" the color of the newspaper and PaintShop Pro is used to "swap" that color with "white". Also, writing on a scanned image is shown. Your home computer system's image-processing application may be used to do similar functions).

I Feel Like This Sometimes

I Rarely Feel Like This... I Normally Find "Hunting" Difficult to Do!


I wish you success with your use of 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:


Year-End Comments, 2005

Each end of year, I try to summarize (from a home-computer user's point of view) a few items that may generate some action by myself and, perhaps, some interaction with my home computer customers or other users.

I will comment on:

  • Highlites of My Recommended Home-Computer-Oriented PC System
  • PC Applications That I Use Daily - As A Home Computer User
    Word Processing: Microsoft Word
    Web/eMail: America Online
    PaintShop Pro
    Nero or something for burning CDs and/or DVDs

The thoughts are not presented in any particular sequence.

Highlites of My Recommended Home-Computer-Oriented PC System

Actually, we have gone through this topic in a number of my newsletters, so I will not bore you - much.

Some highlights/matters continuing to be important (in my view) of home computing use:

  • I continue to recommend that you budget $3000 USA for a home computing PC system that you want to use 4-to-5 years. This amount includes software (such as Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), PaintShop Pro (or something you want for handling digital pictures/images), a scanner, and a printer).

    With hardware including:

    • CPU Processing of 3.00 GHz.
    • 1 Gigabyte of memory minimum (2 Gig if you can justify/afford the cost).
    • Two hard disks. One of about 100 Gigabytes and the second as large as you can afford (such as another 100 Gigabyte disk).
    • Any display that fits your needs. Minimum viewable area 17". Any screen from a reputable hardware vendor will be fine for most home computer users. Flat screen or "old" style. Whatever you like and can afford. I use old-style displays, as my work areas are sufficiently large to host larger-sized units and I can get a nice old-style PC display with excellent resolution for less than $300 USA.
    • Scanner. Get one. Use it. Around $200 USA is fine.
    • Printer. Any reputable brand around $200 is fine for most home computer users.

    Yes, the above is similar to previous years' recommendations. I am glad about that!

PC Applications That I Use Daily - As A Home Computer User

This list has not changed much over my home-computer-user-years:

  • Word Processing: Microsoft Word.
    I keep it open all the time in ready for a copy/paste print of information from either an eMail or some other application. I prefer to print using Word rather than directly from an eMail message. I can control the printed output easier with Word than with the eMail application. Some "controls" that I use all the time include: Font size, bold or italicize text, page numbering, date, header/footer. I rarely print from an eMail application or Web page - I just copy from the source and paste into my already-open Word file. The already-open Word file has a pre-formatted header/footer with page numbers and date.

    My Open-All-The-Time Word (a result of a Word Template)

  • Web/eMail: America Online.
    I have tried once in awhile - especially this year - to use Outlook rather than AOL for eMail. I continue to go back to AOL. It handles eMail very well for my use and I prefer it to Outlook. Sometimes I get frustrated with AOL; for example, I am a dial-up user and AOL sometimes connects at quite slow connection speed (especially on my older/"slower" PCs -- I use three systems, one "fast/new" and two "slow/old"). Calling the AOL support in such a situation has ended up being a not-of-value discussion. However, AOL serves my purpose from an eMail point of view and I will stay with it as 2006 begins.

    AOL and controlling SPAM: Effective. A lot of progress in this area in 2005 -- in fact, quite effective. Even when SPAM arrives, the AOL "Report Spam" button is quick/usable and the "reported" message is not logged in the AOL-saved mail. Good!

    Web: The AOL browser is quite close, now, to a "full" Internet Explorer and, in addition, I can use Netscape when I want to. I assume that any/all other browsers are usable when connected with AOL dialup (this is not an issue when you are using a high-speed connection); I, just, use the AOL-provided Web browser support 75% of the time and Netscape when I wish to (normally to test something "outside" of AOL). This approach (using a non-AOL Web browser when connected with AOL's dialup support) was not possible in earlier years of being an AOL user.

    Dialup as compared with high-speed.
    Dialup works for me. Cost ($21 is less than $45) and the fact that I use multiple systems all the time contribute to my use of dialup. Yes, I have a home-in-place Ethernet network and I could use wireless. However, for now, I remain with dialup.

    Negatives Regarding AOL
    Well... There have been some in 2005.

    The advertising for a "portal" Web page and eMail application is an important part of income $$$$ for the portal owner. In this case: AOL. However, AOL is reaching the point where their Web page approach of presenting that advertising is becoming so prevalent that I wonder if they realize that they may drive users away. The approach that they have taken for not allowing user-determined resizing of their Welcome screen is especially annoying to me.

    AOL apparently pays attention to the settings of the PC/display that I am using and, in turn, makes the Welcome panel appropriately large for its purposes -- and, not to my taste. They allow one-size "downsizing" and that is it. This still fills my PC display more that I would like it to -- and, does not allow me to resize the Welcome screen panel.

    Following is the result on my PC display (settings for the display are: 1024 x 768 pixels. AOL fills the Welcome panel at its smallest size to: 804 x 448

    This setting fills most of my display and, as a result, I run most of the time with AOL minimized. This (minimizing the AOL panel) does not do much for the advertisers...).

    AOL Welcome Panel On A 1024-wide PC Display

    (Smallest size that I can make it: 800 pixels wide)

    Also, the time for loading the Welcome screen is becoming longer than a dialup user should have to wait. This affects AOL stability by, if I click on items that I want to manage (such as eMail) while the Welcome panel is loading, AOL not only makes me wait... but, worse yet: AOL fails and needs to be restarted. Not nice....

    One solution to the Welcome panel not being able to be resized smaller is to close it. AOL allows this after AOL is initialized. When restarting AOL, the Welcome panel comes back.

    AOL Welcome Panel Closed and the AOL Window Resized on a 1024-wide PC Display

    (Panel can be resized to, for example, the size below. However, the user would have to do this each time AOL is initiated.)

    The concept is useable and someday I hope that AOL allows us to totally configure the panels to our preference and, in turn, remember that setting across AOL sessions.

    The advertisers will survive.... and, perhaps, AOL will better retain its user base. We see.

  • PaintShop Pro

    Those of you who regularly read my newsletters know that I use/appreciate PaintShop Pro a lot.

    For my use/PC-systems (one "new"/"fast" and two "old"/"slow" I continue to have reasons to keep with older versions of PaintShop Pro. This is primarily due to stability reasons of new releases. I cannot, as a PaintShop Pro user work on an image/idea for a period of time and have PaintShop Pro terminate unexpectedly. I have, unfortunately, experienced this situation with newer versions of PaintShop Pro and, as a result, I end up continuing to use a previous stable-for-my-use version.

    The version that I am now using is PaintShop Pro 9.01. It performs fine for my use on both "new"/"fast" and "old"/"slow" PC systems.

    I waited to use PaintShop Pro X until the latest upgrade was available -- but, unfortunately I was not able to use it in my situation; it would unexpectedly terminate and I would lose modifications. There were a couple of other usability matters that I found (and reported to PaintShop Pro support staff) -- how, the instability for my use means that I remain with PaintShop Pro 9.01.

    Upon contacting PaintShop Pro support, they were very cooperative/responsive. However, I was not able to spend the amount of time they recommended me to do all the steps they asked me to do/check to make use of PaintShop Pro X. So, I stay with PaintShop Pro 9.01.

    I repeat: I use PaintShop Pro every day. I appreciate PaintShop Pro. I can recommend PaintShop Pro. I, just, can not recommend Paint Shop Pro X, for now. Let me know, if you are a PaintShop Pro X user on a regular basis and can recommend it. Perhaps, with another upgrade I will move to PaintShop Pro X and try some of their newest features. Some day.

  • Nero or something for burning CDs and/or DVDs

    As I have mentioned in an earlier newsletter, when I purchased my current "new"/"fast" PC system I included a CD Read/Write, DVD Read/Write combination drive.

    With that drive came "Nero" as support for the hardware.

    Nero "StartSmart" Startup Panel

    I have not used much of Nero, other than the Data support for burning data CDs and data DVDs. The data support was very usable and I will experiment with the other support as time allows.

    Some Nero Support Panels
    (Showing some support possibilities.)

    I had occasion to contact Nero support, via their Web page, and was very pleased with their response.

    Hardware-wise, I hesitated to get a "Combo" drive and (sure enough) the combo drive failed, leaving me without a CD drive until I had the combo drive replaced. The product was within warranty, and replacing it was no problem -- other than I had to disconnect my PC and take it in for free service. I considered getting separate (two CD/DVD drives) but ended up staying with a combo drive and so far have not regretted that decision.

    I have not (yet) used the data-backup support Nero offers. I may try that eventually.

    In the meantime, I backup using CD/RW and DVD/RW -- and my internal PC<->PC network (copying files across the network, one PC to another).

    I also had a ZIP drive installed in the "new"/"fast" PC and, although I do not use that as often now that I have the CD/RW and DVD/RW -- I do not regret having the ZIP drive. Would I get the ZIP drive on my next PC? No. CD/RW and DVD/RW suffices my need as a home computer user for backing up data and moving data between different PCs.

    Brief comments about CD/DVD:

    • CD-RW created data may only be read on a PC that has a CD-RW hardware disk.

    • CD-R created data will probably be read on any PC that has "any" type of CD hardware disk.

    • DVD-R created video has a good chance of working on your DVD player.

    • DVD+R created video has a good chance of working on your SONY or SONY compatible DVD player -- and, nearly no chance of working on any other type of DVD player.

    Naturally there are exceptions to the above -- but, the above summarizes my experience with CD/DVD/RW in 2005.

  • WinZip

    WinZip is wonderful..... and, many of us have used it for years.

    A new version came out recently and I "upgraded"/purchased that version. I would have done so anyway -- it has been five years since I purchased the previous WinZip version -- but, this upgrade offered support for ZIP-ing across multiple CD/RW "volumes".

    I was pleased about that!

    Did it work on my "new"/"fast" PC? No. The WinZip product description did not state that the product requires a Windows XP - based operating system.... and I run Windows 2000 SP4. I was surprised. This is the first software that I have purchased that does not run on Windows 2000. WinZip support said that they will add a comment to their support/Web page about the "no support for non-XP systems". We see what they do/say. I would prefer that they support Windows 2000.

    Let me know if you run WinZip CD-DVD-RW support on a Windows 2000 system and, if so, I will re-address this matter. I would like to think that there is a need for such support within WinZip and Windows 2000.

Good luck in 2006 with your use of the above applications/matters and I look forward to hearing from any of you who are home-computer-oriented users.

Using Mirror Images for Printing On Back-side of Paper

Recently, I had a reason to print on both-sides of paper -- and match the backside printing with the frontside.

Ready for Printing

Both images. Ready for printing.

The steps taken were to:

  1. Create the Front Side image or set of images.
    I used the PaintShop Pro "Snap to Grid" feature to assist in lining up the four images that I wanted to print on one side of the printout.

    Save the created Front Side image.

  2. Mark the areas of the Front Side image that you want printed on the Back Side.
    Save the created Marked Mirrored Front Side image.

  3. Clear the area of the Marked Mirrored Front Side so that it appears to you as you want to write on it. The areas that you clear/write on will be on the back of the Front Side image after you print the images (using both sides of the print media).
    Save the Cleared Marked Mirrored Front Side image.

  4. Write (or otherwise place a new image or whatever you choose to have on the back of the Front Side image) on the cleared area.
    Save the Written-on (or backside-image that you have added) on the Written-on Mirrored Front Side image.

  5. Print the Front Side image.

  6. Place the now-printed Front Side media in your printer so that the back side of the media will be printed on. (In the case of my HP Deskjet printer, the printed-on side is face down; the just-printed side would be "up").

  7. Print the Written-on Front Side image.

After the above, your original information will have written-on data on the backside.

You could, for example, now cut the printed media into "cards" (such as business cards) that have printed data on both sides. Or, use the above technique to create your own greeting cards.

To see the steps taken in more detail, click on: Further Discussion of Backside Printing

There are a lot of reasons for "back side" printing. Have fun -- and, let me know how you do.

Calendar "Template"

I put together a "template" for a calendar for the upcoming year. It ended up to be something that I can use for upcoming years, as well. If you are interested in the following, click on the image and it will be re-shown in larger size. Then, you can save that image and modify it for your own purposes.

The reason for the size of the shown image (larger than the one that you click on, below) is to allow the template to hold a larger-sized image on your calendar page. When you modify/use the template in your image-processing application (I use PainShop Pro) you will see the value of having the larger-sized template.

Let me know if you have any problems if you choose to use the following templates.

Cover Template

(Clicking on the following will bring forward a larger-sized image of the following. Save the shown-image and modify it, using your image-processing application (for example, PaintShop Pro) to fit your purposes.

Month's Page Template

(Clicking on the following will bring forward a larger-sized image of the following. Save the shown-image and modify it, using your image-processing application (for example, PaintShop Pro) to fit your purposes.

Individual Month

(Clicking on a particular month will bring forward a larger-sized image of that month. Save the shown-image and modify it, adding any text you may want for individul days, and then insert it into the Month's Page Template using your image-processing application (for example, PaintShop Pro).

Month's Page Example

This is an example of a page that I built for this year's calendar.

(Clicking on the following will bring forward a slighlty larger-sized image of the following.)

Good luck with your 2006!

This Month's Example of Scanned Material and/or Digital Photographs

In most 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.

This month I discuss/show examples of:

  1. Putting Together Scanned Images Using PaintShop Pro
  2. Modifying an Image Using PaintShop Pro - Overcast Sky to be Blue Sky
  3. A Few 2005 Pictures
  4. This month's Great Golf Hole.

To see this month's example click anywhere on the following image, or, on the link below the image.

Link to This Month's Photograph Examples from SCScompA (if you did not click on the above image).


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

Miscellaneous Comments Regarding Home Computer Use Matters that Came Up during April 2005 thru Dec 2005

(No particular news in this month's newsletter).

(The following comments are left here, for the convenience of readers who may not have read previous SCSCompA newsletters)

Obtaining Updates from Microsoft

As pointed out in my other newsletters, I am a "firm believer" in keeping your home computer system/applications up to date as possible/time-allows, based upon major product-provider's recommendations. Certainly, as relates to Microsoft security.

I mention the above as a reminder.

Take the time once a month or so to go to the Microsoft Web page and see what Security updates are available. I, personally, accept all of Microsoft's Security updates and recommend this to home computer users I interact with.

Yes, it is possible to configure "Windows Update" to go to the Web page automatically. I, simply, prefer to manage this matter myself. It is not a difficult/complex activity, although it would be nice if it is done by a home user on a consistent basis (one person, once a month, allocate a slot of time to investigate at least Microsoft security updates.

  • If you have a need for major updates (such as a Service Pack) don't hesitate to telephone Microsoft or use a Web link from Microsoft's Web page and ask for the major update be normal-mailed to you (assuming it is available on CD by regular mail).

Some Web pages used this past month:

The following is a repeat from previous months. I don't have anything particular to add at this time.

As a reminder, to those of you who are new to my newsletters, I use the following regularly (I am intentionally not making the following information clickable. Just enter the addresses into your Web browser's "go to" field if you wish to go there now. Perhaps use copy/paste from this Web page's following information). In any case, for information, my most-used Web pages includes:

  • Last summer - for USA's top Pro baseball listening. The audio, this year is around $14 USA for the entire season (as compared with $20 a year ago). For me? It is a good investment! I enjoy listening to the Web radio broadcasts of baseball and if you are a baseball fan I can recommend it. I use my laptop in the evening and my primary PC for day games. I listen to about an hour a day of over 100 games a year (primarily the Minnesota Twins' games). Season begins early April each year. is offered for USA's top Pro American-football game listening. The Web radio support for the 2005 games is the same as in 2004, $35 (no fees were charged in 2002). I "passed" on that this season. I think they overcharge and $15 for the season would have been a correct price for Web radio.

    I think the Web radio "broadcasters" have to be careful about the fees they charge. The financial direction they are taking (doubling the price, in many cases each year) does not make sense to me. They need to have customers -- and, it would be interesting to me to see if they are profitable with the approach they take.

    If your Internet connection costs are not time-related, give Web radio a try for your sport of choice -- if the price is within your budget.

  • Search engine of my choice: Primarily, Google:
  • USA Newspaper (Minneapolis Star Tribune):
  • Europe Newspaper in English (Edinburgh Scotland, Scotsman):
  • Europe Newspaper in German (Zurich Switzerland):
  • America Online's support for: "Business News", My Portfolios", "Movies" (Reviews), "Top News".
  • Weather:

There are, naturally, other Web pages I used as the month went by -- but, the above I use on a daily basis.

Let me know what Web pages you use on a daily basis.

Maintenance Matters.

(I discuss a couple of maintenance items in the newsletter item above, in case you missed that item - browse, when you get a chance).

This area is a repeat from previous newsletters -- but it is worth continuing to include in current newsletters as well. I apologize for the repetition, but the topic is important.

  • As mentioned earlier in many of my newsletters: I recommend you have the latest vender-recommended software (operating system and primary applications) maintenance and security support. If you need assistance in this topic, don't hesitate to ask someone you trust.

  • Once again, nothing "dramatic" came up this month maintenance-wise on my systems. As a reminder, however:

    Backup any of your user files / folders that contain information that you do not want to recreate. Remember: Your PC and/or its hard disk will break... You will have to, eventually, (probably at the worst possible moment!) recreate your user-data from your backup media.

    Backup your key user-data on external media -- and, once in awhile store that external media "offsite" in case of a major disaster at your home. I realize this sounds extreme -- but, I recommend you take the time for offsite backup of your user data every six months or whenever you feel comfortable doing so. Where? Perhaps at a friend or relative's house that you trust will not be bothered by the material. I even know of some users who place the backup data once a year-or-so in a safe deposit box. Offsite backup is not a casual matter to either ignore nor "manage". However, I recommend you do it if your home computer system involves user data that you do not want to start from scratch recreating.

    • I use a second PC (an older system that I use primarily for saving data) for backing up daily information.
    • I use a combination of CD/RW CDrom disks and ZIP disks as my backup media for external backup.
    • I backup daily any file I work on (such as a Word presentation) more than 1 hour.
    • I backup monthly all my user files/folders.
    • I backup monthly all other family member's user files/folders that are on my PC.

      I remind other family members who use our family PC that if they want more-than-one-month backups of something they are working on, they need to ask me to back up specific files/folders.

  • The latest McAfee update and XDAT (file for use by McAfee in identifying viruses) I have downloaded and installed:
    VirusScan Version 9.1
    Build 9.1.08
    Engine 4.4.00
    DAT 4.0.4581 dated 9/14/2005. (I have not renewed my DAT license. I will do that, some day...).

    I recommend that whatever virus protection service you use, you check at least once a month for virus updates.

  • I use Microsoft's WindowsUpdate (see their Web page) on a regular basis and update my three home computer systems security-wise. I recommend you do this as well.

    It takes me about 2-hours per machine each time I do this (I am not on a high-speed Internet connection). I know this sounds like a lot of time (for a home user) -- but, if someone in your home is computer-oriented it is time worth investing.

    I do not update Window's service packs using WindowsUpdate. I use the CD version for Windows 2000 SP4.

  • For Microsoft Internet Explorer, I have installed the latest security fixes from the Microsoft Web pages for IE6.

  • For Windows 2000 I installed SP4. Make certain you check with the Microsoft Web page and the Security section once in awhile. Have someone assist you if you are not interested in this topic but feel you should be more security conscious than you currently now are!

    I recommend if you are running Windows that you upgrade to Internet Explorer V6 if you have not already done so and, in addition, try to keep up with Microsoft's security updates for Internet Explorer V6 as well as for your operating system.

    I also installed the made-available end-August 2002 Microsoft Office application update.

    Have someone assist you if you are not certain how to obtain/install the latest updates, pointed to by the Microsoft home page.

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 these FreeCell games 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 3000. Now, we are attacking 3001-to-4000 and I would recommend you start with 4001! 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 "special" 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: 3242 (fun and tricky) and 3256 (quite easy).
  • Other deals we found interesting this month (number of times to restart is after the slash):
    FreeCell Deal Numbers/Restarts that were fun!: 3252/1, 3153/1, 3182/3, 3189/4. Give these a try and see if you can get them completed quicker.
  • Another different type of deal was:
    FreeCell Deal Number: 3259.
    Number of times I had to re-start to complete in lost-count moves: 5

  • Deal 598 continues to be the most difficult one, for me, that we found in deals 1-3000. I have met someone who completed this in 1 deal! Congratulations!!!! I have never completed it.

    Deal 1941 has become "famous" to me. If you have not tried it, give it a try and let me know how many tries it takes you to complete it.

  • Deal 1123 is the easiest deal, in our opinion, that we have found so far, with 2018 being second-easiest in our opinion. Other very easy deals in our experience are: 2597, 3013, 3046

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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