Newsletter Comments from SCScompA
Newsletter Date: February 1, 2001
I assume you have now completed your "2001 Kick Off" meetings at your workplace -- and, you are fully into work projects that lead you to a successful work year.
Also, from a home computing point of view, some of you have a holiday-purchased new PC system or equipment -- and, you and your family are in the midst of becoming familiar with the new PC or PC-connected equipment.
Or, you are (as am I!) making-do with your "old" equipment and continually -- and, hopefully: enjoying -- growing as a home computing user. Almost every day I come across something that surprises/encourages me as a home computer user and I hope that holds true for you and for your family, as well. I know that work/school have preference over a lot of home computing uses and time-spent home computing: However, once in awhile, it is nice to use the home PC system for something other than work/school. In that regard, the first item (following) of this February newsletter contains some objectives I would recommend in 2001 for home computing users. Let me know what your objectives are!
In any case, to start off this month's newsletter
I include, below, two items from the Raleigh News-Observer this month. I can identify with both!
I am not sure if it is hearing.... that is the problem.
I am not sure if it is the project... or doing the project. However, completion is FUN!
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.
eMail to: SCScompA@aol.com
Some Recommended 2001 Objectives for Home Computing Users
I think having some objectives -- and, taking the time to write the objectives down -- and, then, read/review those objectives later in time, can be of value. Following, are some objectives I would recommend regarding home computing.
If you are not already doing so:
- Add a Newspaper Web page to your regular-access "Favorite"/bookmarked Web pages. I use the Minneapolis Star and Tribune newspaper as my online newspaper, since I am originally from that area and enjoy a lot of their writers. Use that newspaper Web page on a regular basis. In my case, I usually spend about 1/2 hour at the newspaper Web page with regular access to the areas of:
- National News
- World News
I also can recommend the Zurich, Switzerland newspaper if you read German.
And, naturally, give your local newspaper Web page a chance!
Let me know if you are not sure how to find a good newspaper Web page.
- Make sure your home PC system has scanner capability. A good scanner can be installed for less than $150 one time cost (yes, you can do it for even less $$$ -- but, I recommend you have a reasonable budget for your system and $150 is a good average). Once you have a scanner, locate a few photographs (old or new) and scan the photos into your PC and, in turn, prepare a good way to show/share those on-your-PC-system photos with your family and friends.
Connected with this objective for 2001: Start using a digital camera if you are not already using one. Once you have the camera: Set up a good/easy-to-use procedure for saving/showing/sharing the photos with family and friends.
- Find a good PC game that the entire family can use -- and, have some friendly family/friends "competitions" with those games. I recommend (those of you who have been following my newsletter know what I will say in this regard!):
- FreeCell. I love that game.... See the last item in this newsletter for comments on FreeCell deals my family has completed.
- A card game on the PC. I use and recommend Sierra Hoyle Classic Card games and play Hearts the most.
- Our family has also started play bridge on the PC. We use Bridge Baron From Great Games Products.
You may be thinking at this time: "Is it not BORING and a total waste of time to play such games on a PC in front of a display". I would answer: "No! In fact, an hour or two once in awhile is fun and good for the mind...".
A laptop, and having a convenient way to use that laptop anywhere your family/friends in your house can use that laptop, is a good contributor to having some "fun" and "mental exercise" using computer games such as the above! Yes: I recommend some fun once in awhile.
- Consider if you want to have some music online (I discussed this some in last month's newsletter). At least: Think about doing that and try it. A nice set of music on your home PC system and having a convenient way to listen/control what you are playing can be nice to have when you are "working" on your home PC. Headphones may be necessary if other members of the family do not have similar-to-your tastes in music!
- Make certain your home PC system has good backup capability and use that capability on a monthly-or-so (at least: Regular) basis.
Let me know if you agree or disagree with the above objectives for 2001 and home computing: And, certainly, mention to me what your families' objectives are for your home computing system.
This Month's Example of Viewing Scanned and/or Digital Camera Pictures using HTM (Web page) parameters.
Recently, each newsletter has presented some examples of viewing scanned information/pictures or digital camera pictures on your PC. This month's example continues that by showing:
- A simple example of an animation built using JASC's PaintShop Pro and its Animation Shop application.
- An example of saving text information scanned to your PC. The example shown saves the text as a single image. Why use an image for text? Well.... it is easy to scan and later view. I use the scanned-image approach rather than convert the scanned information to text, often, and for record keeping/viewing find that approach works for me.
- Another example of a scanned "old" photograph. The example is a class photo of the IBM Basic Data Processing (BDP) class held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, July-August 1968. If you recognize anyone in that picture, let me know!
- A picture of a "great golf hole", taken by an Olympus digital camera. As usual: If you recognize the location and the golf hole -- let me know!
Click on the following if interested in viewing this months examples.
This Month's Example of Viewing Scanned and/or Digital Camera Pictures using HTM (Web page) parameters.
If you are interested in seeing other examples of SCScompA's newsletter scanned/digital photographs and other information, see the newsletters pointed to by the link at the end of this Web page.
Don't hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments on the above or for any related discussion.
Miscellaneous Comments Regarding Home Computer Use Matters that Came Up in January
- Comments regarding:
- PC system backup.
Those of you who follow the progress of my newsletters know that I very often talk about the importance of backing up PC-stored information. This topic is important to a home-computer user and, yet, often overlooked.
I cannot think of a home computer user that need not be concerned about having a backup policy -- and, every family/friend user of your home computer and who stores information on that home computer should have a basic understanding of what your PC's backup "policy"/procedures are.
If a person has in-progress, for example, a Word document/paper for a school project, then that person should know how to back up the in-progress document/paper. The person should understand enough fundamentals of "record keeping" that he/she can keep different backup copies of the document/paper offline from the PC. The offline storage can be anything that works; including, for example, 3 1/2 inch floppies, external CD/RW disks, or external ZIP disks.
A few important things to keep in mind:
- Your PC will "break" and data you have on the PC will eventually not be available without restoring it from offline backup. When will this happen? At the worst possible time for your needs!
- Backup is not a complicated matter and anyone who uses the PC can participate in a backup policy.
- Restoring the backup is something that may require someone from the family "helping" the inexperienced user. However, the restore is only possible if the backup took place!
Following, is a note I wrote this week to a user who asked me a few questions about backup:
An incoming note mentioned that the sender was having a discussion with other home-PC users regarding "Back Up" and would appreciate some further comments.
I give a few basic comments:
The easiest thing to keep in mind about backup is: If you lose your PC (you will...) and have to re-install Windows (you will....): What do I not want to rebuild? Anything in that category: Backup. As often as you do NOT want to rebuild.
- One should ALWAYS backup any files they do not want to re-create. For, me, that is:
AOL mail (inbound/outbound/favorites/address book) -- and AOL keeps them all in one folder: "organize" in the AOL main folder.
Any documents (such as Microsoft Word) I build for myself or for my business. I keep them in one folder "David" with my personal stuff directly in David and my business stuff in a folder under David with the name of my business: SCScompA.
Anything xxxx puts on the PC. Believe me, people such as xxxx do NOT want to recreate anything.
Anything family-wise I want to have easy access to. Such as photos or other things I have scanned or used the digital camera to collect and put on the PC for easy access and viewing.
Anything "important" such as material I build or scan/photograph and I want to save and have easy access to.
- Backup as often as you are comfortable that you would have little trouble recreating what you lose. For me, this is done daily for my business stuff and monthly for the family stuff, and only after I change things such as a group you work with and your related committee's material.
Yes, you do NOT have to backup documents/etc. that you print off and save in hard-copy form -- but, hard-copy is not in my mindset.
Any media not on the PC. Such as a ZIP disk (that is what you use). Another common place to use, now, with "current" PCs is a Read/Write CDrom. I think CDrom is OK -- it, is, just, that my PC (and yours) use ZIP disk. Either is OK. You also could use 3.5inch floppies -- but, in today's world the 3.5inch floppies are often too small.
Another PC. I have two in my home and I use the laptop as a secondary PC to my main PC.
- I do not backup Windows. I have no problem recreating Windows and I know what applications I have to reinstall. So, I concentrate regular backups on my own stuff.
When you work in a business environment, your PC staff takes backups and you don't have to worry about recreating things. In my/your case: "We" are the PC staff. So, we have to do the backups -- or, recreate things when necessary.
- When is it necessary to recreate things? A new PC. A PC that breaks (they all do). You/I make a mistake and erase or otherwise mess something up (we will, eventually).
Simple backups: Just load the ZIP disk (for example -- or a Read/Write CDrom) into its drive and copy what you want to save (see (1) above) to the ZIP disk, identifying on the ZIP disk the date of your backup. If necessary (it is, for me since I have more junk: Photos, scanned images, etc.) compress (that saves space on the ZIP drive) the copied information using something like the WinZip application. The good thing about WinZip is: It is inexpensive ($29 one time) and extremely reliable and used by all PC "experts" -- so, you know it works.
One final thing: When you write on a ZIP disk (for example) you can re-write over it with a later backup. In some cases, your ZIP disk does not get filled. OK. But, if it does, you can write on top of it when you have a later backup. In my PC's case, I keep two sets of ZIP disks -- last months and the previous first-week-of-this month. I write on top of the older for the newer. In my PC (my family PC) my backups are 10 ZIP disks big -- so, I need 20 ZIP disks. In your case, I assume you have never filled your first ZIP disk. That will change, if you start backing up your online music (for example) that you are starting to save. And, if you ever start putting photos/scanned documents online you will start having more you want to backup.
Let me know your views on the above.
- Compression factor for JPEGs (JPGs).
With PaintShop Pro, there is an option when using "Save-As" of a JPG (JPEG) that allows for compression. When using Microsoft Photo Editor there is a similar option.
If you are interested in a small example of this option using PaintShop Pro, click on:
Example of JPG Compression
This month, I had a reason to add some fonts to my Windows 2000 system. I used the fonts provided by IMSI MasterClips. I use MasterClips once in awhile to get a particular image (my version of Masterclips has 303,000 images).
It was an easy task to identify the Masterclips CD that included the fonts and to move the fonts to the Windows 2000 font folder. Let me know if you are interested in this topic and are having any trouble getting your fonts installed and used by an application such as Microsoft Word.
- Search engine listings
If you have a reason to have a Web page listed in a Web search engine and are uncertain how to get that accomplished, let me know and I may have some ideas for you based upon my past year's experience in getting listed.
If you have favorite search engines you use, let me know if you can easily find any SCS Computer Assistance (SCScompA) Web pages in that search engine. If not, let me know that, as well!
For normal home user PC use, it is (probably) not necessary for your Web page to be listed in a search engine. If you disagree with this comment, let me know!
- Miscellaneous matters.
As I mentioned the last two months, the cost for Office 2000 Standard for my home PC/laptop was $170 for the upgrade, with a mail-in rebate for an additional reduction of $40. I also mentioned last month that I would let you know if the mailed-in rebate was successful: I am happy to report that I promptly received the mail-in rebate from Microsoft. Also, I had purchased Office 2000 from the local Office Depot store and they had a mail-in rebate offer of $70 for Eddie Bauer. I am happy to report that $70 credit arrived as well. Good, on all points with regards to the rebate.
- Maintenance matters that came up this month.
Some matters worth mentioning include:
- America Online: I moved to the latest America Online Version 6 on Windows 2000. I had trouble with upgrading my AOL V5 Address Book (I ended up with multiple/duplicate entries after the upgrade). I "manually" deleted the duplicates and am running fine so far. I think it unfortunate that I had to "manually" remove the duplicates -- but, I am still a happy Windows 2000 America Online user!
- PaintShop Pro: I downloaded their maintenance upgrade from Version 7.0 to Version 7.1. So far, the upgrade has worked well and if you are using PaintShop Pro and have not upgraded yet: Give it a try.
- Scanner Use: If you are a new scanner user, a couple of matters are worth noting:
- When scanning, your PC mouse (at least, mine is!) and the PC itself may be "tied up". This is normal operation; don't be concerned about using another PC operation/application during the actual scanning process. If your PC and how the scanner is connected to your PC do not "tie up" other applications: OK!
- When scanning, you can normally specify resolution in "DPI" (Dots Per Inch). With my scanner, 300 DPI for photographs work well -- but, the resultant scanned image is quite large even when compressed (See the earlier discussion in this newsletter for compressed JPGs). Check your scanner application's current setting and see if a smaller DPI gives you adequate images, keeping mind the following:
For pictures that are going to "only" stored on your PC (perhaps viewed by an HTM approach as we have shown/discussed in the past), then you may as well scan at the highest DPI your scanner supports. If you are going to distribute your pictures on the Web, try a DPI of 100 and see if that is sufficient for your purposes.
Let me know what values you use and how that values' shown-picture quality is.
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: 1775, 1783, 1794
Other deals we found interesting-and-not-too-hard this month (number of times to restart is in parentheses):
- Freecell Deal Numbers: 1772,1780(1), 1786(3)
A different type of deal was:
- Freecell Deal Number: 1784.
Number of times I had to re-start to complete in lost-count moves: 4
A tough set of deals, reported to you in last month's newsletter, are deals: 1587-thru-1592. It took us thirteen restarts to complete the six deals, with two of the six deals requiring no restarts. If you try this stretch of six deals, let me know if you can complete the six deals with less than thirteen restarts and how many deals you find in the nine 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: SCScompA@aol.com
Or send snail-mail to:
P.O. Box 58223
Raleigh NC 27658
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