Newsletter Comments from SCScompA

Newsletter Date: May 1, 2001

I was late this month. I had been traveling for a few weeks and that delayed my newsletter. I apologize for being late -- but, I have enjoyed the time away and the trip brought forth a number of items that I include in this newsletter. In any case: Back in action, now.

Browse along -- and have a great start to Summer in the Northern Hemisphere and to Winter the Southern Hemisphere!

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 example I show this month was two separate comics scanned and put into one image with a couple of text comments added using an image processing application. I used PaintShop Pro for this example. Let me know if you have questions or comments on how the following example was built.

Needed: A Response to a Report-Request -- and, a Follow-up Request

Some of us, in our school/business sometimes end up with too long reports. The following is an example of short-but-to-the-point!

As your report-writing efforts come forward this end-of-school-year for many of you, I wish you success in both clarity and in brevity!


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

  1. Take advantage of your PC (plus, perhaps, your laptop) and keep a journal of your season/vacation time.

  2. Take advantage of your scanner to scan any key pictures or other information you gather during your season/vacation time and save/display that information you want to share with family/friends on your PC, on your laptop, on the Web, and perhaps on a PC-to->TV connection.

    Use your digital camera if you have one and include that material on what you save on the PC and share with friends/family,

  3. Back up your information on your PC! Save the journal, the pictures and/or scanned information, and the digital pictures you store on the PC and/or laptop. Save the material on an external media such as a ZIP disk or a CD/RW CD. Someday, even if not today: You, your family, your friends will appreciate browsing what you have saved.

    Let me know if you need a lab exercise or other assistance in doing any of the above.

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

Dave Shogren
eMail to:


Using a laptop/Web While Traveling on Vacation

Once again this trip, I used my laptop a lot while on vacation. And, I used the Web. This newsletter item is a summary of some thoughts and hints that came about as the trip went along. If you want more details on the following items let me know.

  • I like to write notes/items-of-interest-to-me. The notes can be, then, placed into a journal of some specific time period. In this discussion, that time period is a particular vacation trip. However, such a note-taking process can apply to any time period such as a school term, a work trip or project, or a week of time that is of particular interest to the note-writer.

    I use Microsoft Word as my data-entry application for saving the notes I write. I could have used Microsoft's WordPad or Notepad. You use whatever is your "word processor" or simple-to-use data entry/report approach.

    Consider what name you want for your journal document/file and a folder to save the journal plus other information (pictures or scanned information) for this particular vacation trip or specific time period. I use a combination of Date and Place as a key for my use. For example, before I left for this trip, I set up on my main PC:

    • A folder called: "Scotland May 2001"

    • A subfolder for saving Word documents called: "Documents and Text Information"

      A "blank" but ready-for-me-to-input Word document for later use during the trip on my laptop named: SCOT2001.DOC and placed that Word document into the above subfolder.

    • A subfolder for saving pictures and any other digital/scanned information called: "Pictures and Scanned Information"

      A subfolder under this folder was created each time I moved the digital pictures / scanned information into this folder. I use a subfolder name of: SOMEJPGx where x = 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.

    The folder and file structure looks like:

    • Scotland May 2001

      Documents and Text Information
      SCOT2001.DOC (A profile of how the document will be. Most empty at the start of the trip).

      Pictures and Scanned Information

    • SOMEJPG1 (An empty folder for the first set of saved pictures or scanned information)

      The above folders/etc. are copied in their most-empty state onto the laptop. As the trip proceeds, the laptop activity "fills in" the above folders/etc.

      Important: The above folder structure is what is saved (using WinZip or some similar approach) to external media (probably 3 1/2" floppies) during the trip.

      Once the above structure is set up once, it is easy to set it up for future trips/time periods.

    As the trip proceeds, using Word, I could then:

    • Quite easily organize/highlight my note's time periods by titles (headings) and, then, point to those headings using a Table of Contents approach. This helps when I convert the Word document to a Web page (HTM) format.

    • Effectively print the information later.

    • Ask Microsoft Word to convert the information I entered into a Web page format (HTM) for placing on the Web and/or passing the HTM file onto friends/family as either an attached file to a note or as a file on a snail-mailed (regular mail) diskette, RW/CD CD, for a ZIP disk.

      I do not place pictures into my journal. I prefer to organize the pictures into a separate set of data from the journal, keeping the journal data file as a smaller-sized file for moving the Word document around. By "moving around", I mean (for example: Sending to other people using the Internet, placing the Word document onto a floppy for saving the information, and moving the Word document between my laptop (while traveling) and onto my main PC when returning home.

  • I use a digital camera for taking pictures while I travel. Instead of a digital camera, one could use a normal camera and then develop the pictures later and either ask that the pictures be placed into digital form by the developer (I guess this is a possible option! Let me know if you use a photographer to have pictures placed into a digital format and what the cost is to do this) or you scan pictures you want to save and/or place on your PC.

    If you use the non-digital-camera approach and later plan on scanning the pictures, I like to ask the photographer to place the pictures into a contact-sheet form and then scan the contact sheet. This can save time and money. I have discussed this in other SCScompA newsletters (see the October, 2000 SCScompA newsletter).

  • On a daily-or-so basis, I copy the pictures from the digital camera to the laptop.

    Remember the earlier-in-this-Web page discussion about folder names, etc? Browse that topic if you have forgotten what I mentioned there).

    • Don't forget to backup on external media the from-camera-to-laptop pictures before you erase them from your laptop!

  • Daily, or at least often -- when time allows! -- I use the laptop to update the journal using Microsoft Word. I also backed-up the Microsoft Word file on a regular basis (onto an external floppy).

  • Once a week or so during the trip (or more often if you wish to) I asked Microsoft Word to save the journal document in Web format (as an HTM file).

    In my case, it was easy to move that file to America Online's Web server space that it provides to its users.

    Family and friends, whom I have pointed the Web page to, could easily follow the progress of our trip.

I know that the above, to some of you, may seem complicated and a "long process". However, the process is very usable and I recommend you consider such a matter as your vacation/trips move along in 2001.

If you are interested in seeing the journal that was created as my past April trip moved along, as an example for you to consider, contact me via eMail:

To summarize the process one more time since this newsletter item ended up to be quite long:

  • Take a laptop/PC with you and use Microsoft Word or something to log a journal of your vacations / key time periods.
  • Take a digital camera with you as you travel and save the pictures to your laptop.
  • Once the journal and the pictures are on your laptop, back them up on a regular basis onto external media (floppies, CD/RW disk, Zip disk).
  • Convert your journal to a Web-accessible file (HTM) and place that file on the Web for your family/friends to access.
  • Move, to the Web, some of the in-process pictures you have moved from your digital camera to your laptop for your family/friends to access.
  • When you return from your vacation / key time period, copy the information from your laptop to your primary PC.
  • Once on your primary PC, backup all the information once again!
  • Edit the information and build a memory of the vacation / key time period for access either using the Web or offline.
  • Backup the information once again!
  • Many years down the road, enjoy reviewing the information!

Contact SCScompA regarding the above discussion: I am interested in your comments and in knowing if the topic fits your needs. I also have lab exercises that assist you in better understanding the approaches used if you have need of such assistance.

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.


I often discuss the topic of "showing pictures" and journal-type information in SCScompA newsletters, but mention it (here) again this month as a reminder. Those of you who are not familiar with the approach used in showing pictures or scanned information in a way such as shown using the above link, if you are interested in doing such a thing:

  • Don't hesitate to give it a try! I highly recommend giving a "flat file" (HTM format) approach and I believe any home computer user can do that. It requires some patience and takes some effort -- but, have someone in your family give it a try.

    Go to your local bookstore, ask where the old "bargain books" section of the store is located, look for any computer-section in the bargain books for a title containing the words: Learn HTM -- and, buy the book and pass it onto someone in your family who is interested in the topic!

    Also, as a reminder, I have an SCScompA Lab exercise that you can use as you get started. Cost is $25 in printed form, $15 if you download the lab.

    Let me know if you need some help in getting started.

  • I recommend Microsoft WordPad (provided "free" as part of your Windows install) as your application for working with the flat (HTM) file. Another option would to use Microsoft Notepad (also a free application).

    When you save the file using either of the above applications, use "Save-As" a simple text file and use a name such as "Somefilename.HTM". The HTM will be used, later, as an indicator to Windows to ask your local Web browser (such as Netscape or Microsoft Internet Explorer) to process the text file (HTM) you just processed. For those of you who "know all this" -- thank you for your patience!

  • You may choose to purchase a software package that helps you instead of managing the flat (HTM) file, itself.

    I do not use such an application, myself and have not worked with people I assist who have such an application. I see articles on the topic once in awhile, but have not had a need to gather information or use an "HTM" builder application as a home computer user. I do use Microsoft Word sometimes to build an HTM file including pictures -- but, would not do that on a regular basis for home computer - type journals or vacation-trip-picture reporting. I could... but, I just use a flat file (HTM) approach.

    If you have had good success as a home computer - oriented user of an "HTM"-builder application: Let me know, I am curious what people use.

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 April

  • 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:

      Although not a Web page, I decided to purchase RealPlayer Plus and their support for Web radio. I did this, to have access to the Web radio broadcasts of the USA's Major League Baseball games.

      Last season, the broadcast of the team I follow the most (The Minnesota Twins) was broadcast at no charge by a Minnesota radio station. Listening to the day games while I work on the PC or once in awhile listen to the evening games in another area of my house by making use of my laptop and its Web connection was very enjoyable.

      This season, the USA's Major League Baseball league has a financial contract/agreement with the radio stations and is controlling how the Web broadcasts are distributed. When this baseball season started (early April) I was on the road traveling and baseball / Web radio listening was not on my agenda. When I returned from vacation I was interested in listening once again to the Minnesota Twins baseball games and investigation showed two options to choose from:


        Cost: $9.95 USA for the entire season (April-thru-October).


      2. RealPlayer Plus (GoldPass) at a higher fee.

        Cost: I found a subscription available at $4.95 USA per month. It was a "special offer" and, if I understand it correctly, the normal charge is $9.95 USA per month. In my case, I will pay around $30 USA for the season instead of the above $9.95 USA using "only"

      Your question may be: "Why select the higher fee choice?" Well, I use RealPlayer quite often for non-baseball reasons and I, personally, think around $5 USA per month for the stations I can get using RealPlayer Plus (GoldPass) is worth a year-or-so trial at $5 USA per month. Subscribing "only" to Major League Baseball's Web page (even at a nice, lower fee) does not offer me -- since, I use Web radio -- enough services for the foreseeable future.

      I may be wrong!

      It is possible that (for example) when this coming September's USA major football season comes around: RealPlayer (GoldPass) will not offer football. Last football season I listened to the Minnesota Viking's football team on Web radio "free" once in awhile and enjoyed listening to the games. I do not know yet, if they will be offered "free" once again. If Minnesota Viking's games are not on RealPlayer (GoldPass) or offered at no-charge: I will have to make another decision.

      Why did I mention this in this newsletter and why would I have such a long discussion here on this matter? I would like to know if you listen to Web radio, and if so, do you listen to USA's Major League baseball Web broadcasts -- and, are you a "happy listener"! Your comments are of interest to me for use in my future decisions on this topic as well as in any discussions I have with my customers. Thanks!

      The other evening, via my laptop and its connection to the Internet using America Online together with the Web radio service from RealPlayer (GoldPass), I had a fun/relaxing hour switching easily between the Minnesota Twins / New York Yankees' game and the Cleveland Indians' game. It would have been impossible for me to do that with a "real" radio in my location. The Web support by RealPlayer was easy to use, the performance was fine using my laptop's 56KB modem, and it felt like the "old days" when we used to sit outside the house listening to the baseball game in progress: "Live and on the Radio"!

      I enjoy it -- and, it is worth $5 USA per month to me. If they include USA football in the upcoming season -- it may be, even, worth $10 per month if that is necessary. For now, $5 is fine -- I do not live in a city that has Major League baseball on the radio on a daily basis.

      I believe, though, the Web radio service providers are going to have to be careful to not raise their prices much higher than $10 per month -- and that may be too high. The entertainment dollars in today's high prices for cable TV, etc. are stretching the limit. I want the companies to stay in business and I want them to make a fair profit. In today's charge of $22 per month for an Internet ISP / service provider (America Online): $5 per month for a Web radio service is "acceptable". $10 per month is, already, too high in my view -- but, if it includes USA major league (National Football League) football: I may pay $10 per month. However, I may not....

      Let me know your thoughts on this.

      If you do not live in a city where there is a USA Major League Baseball radio broadcast -- and, you or members of your family are baseball fans: I can recommend Web radio broadcasts of the games -- especially if you have:

      • 56KB or higher modem connection to your PC and laptop.
      • A second phone line if you are a dial-up Internet/Web user and phone connection costs are not an issue for your situation.
      • A laptop in addition to your main home PC system. The laptop (assuming it can easily dial/get connected to the Internet) lets you listen to Web radio in different areas of your house than where your main PC system is located.
      • A good set of headphones so that you do not bother other family members!

      I wish you good listening!

    • Another good Web page I used this month was the Embassy World Snooker Web page. For fun -- if you are not familiar with using Web search engines (or otherwise find Web pages), find the Embassy World Snooker Web page and see if you can find out who won this April/May 2001 World Snooker title and who was in the final match. Let me know if you have any problems in finding this information.

      Browse around the Web page; I found it quite interesting and well organized.

    • Other Web pages I use and can recommend:
      (I just provide an overall description, for purpose of those of you who are not familiar with Web search engines or other techniques for finding Web pages. Just let me know if you cannot find the following).

      Newspaper: If you are not browsing one on a regular basis -- I recommend you do so if you have time/interest! I read the Minneapolis Star-Tribune Web page nearly every day and can recommend it if English is OK for you. If you find a non-English newspaper Web page for your use, let me know what you use and if you would recommend it for others who can read that language.

      Sports: I refer to the USA's golf PGA Tour Web page for real-time scoring on Thursday-thru-Sundays. Give it a try, if interested. From their Web page, they have links to other in-progress golf events and report "real time" scoring for events on USA and European golf tours. If I am working on the PC I sometimes leave their real-time scoring open in a window that I take a peak at once in awhile. The open window is brought forward by Windows / the Web browser as I work -- and, it causes a brief interruption -- but, I don't mind! Let me know if you use the PGA real time scoring and, if so, if you leave the window open while you are on the PC; I am interested in knowing if the "real time" approach is working out OK for other than myself.

      Also, I use the normal America Online Sports Web pages for "real time" reporting of USA major league baseball games. If you go there, take a look at their option for "Pitch by Pitch" reporting. I keep a window open of that service for key (to me!) baseball games that are going on and I am not listening to on Web radio. Let me know if you ever use the "Pitch by Pitch" window -- and, if you do: Why is the Web radio broadcast not in synch with the Pitch by Pitch window?

    • A few comments about matters that come up this month while I used Microsoft Word:

      • When copying (Edit-->Copy)information from Web pages or eMail into a Word document (Edit-->Paste), I sometimes end up with a table or multiple tables in the Word document. Often, I do not need or want the information in table format. All I need to do to get rid of the table formatting is to use the Word (Table-->Convert) path to convert the information to regular text. Naturally, highlight/select/"blacken" the information you want Word to take action on.

        I often get rid of the table formatting for printing reasons, or for moving the copied information around within a text file.

        Do tables ever get in your way? If so, try the Word "Table/Convert" path.

      • I find that I am opening a "blank" new Word document on a daily basis and leaving that Window open for the entire time I on the PC. Why?

        Spell checking: I use applications, such as WordPad or Notepad -- or, even, in composing an eMail message -- that I find it convenient to use the Word spell checker. I use Edit-->Copy from the current application and Edit-->Paste into the blank ("scratch pad") Word document and use its spell checker. I have to go back-and-forth "manually" to make spelling corrections -- but, I do not mind doing that. If you have need of a spell checker and are not using Word in this way, give it a try.

        Printing: Often, especially with eMail or from a Web page, I want to print something -- but, not everything. I use Edit-->Copy from the current application and Edit-->Paste into the blank ("scratch pad") Word document and print from there.

        Having an already-open "blank" / scratch Word document ready to use saves me time.

      • Changing fonts: If you are a regular Word user, you are used to changing fonts as you input to Word. For those of you who may be just starting with Word, keep in mind that if you highlight ("darken") a block of text you can then use the Word Format-->Font path to change the font of the entire highlighted text.

        Good luck with your Word use as your travels/journals/etc. activities move along in 2001.

    • For pictures and other scanned items I have on the PC, I sometimes use Camedia to view the material as a "slide show". The Camedia software came with my purchase of an Olympus digital camera a couple of years ago.

      If you have numerous photos/scanned images on your PC and you want to take a look at them -- or, show them to someone -- what software do you use?

      I often use Camedia before I take the time to point to the finally-selected pictures/images I point to using an HTM (Web page) approach.

    • Web page "pop ups": I am all for Web page "managers" / owners making a fair profit on their investment. I want the Web / Internet / and its servers to be very profitable. The more profitable they are, I believe the more efficient/valuable they will be -- and, the costs for "basic" use of the Web/Internet (eMail, Web browsing, and use of provided Web server's services) will remain cost effective.

      However, I very much dislike the approach of "popping open" an advertising window without my asking for it. I wish that Web page people would find other ways to remain profitable than pop up something without my asking for it.

    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:

    • Backup! Don't forget to backup key user information prior to going on vacation or any trip. Who knows, what may happen while you are gone!

      Once in awhile store the backed up information (ZIP disks, RW/CDs, even floppies) off site from your home or other place your PC system is located. Place the material in a labeled box and store it at some other family member's/friends home (for example).

    • Shut down and power off your home PC system before you leave for vacation or any trip. Even if you have a surge protector, consider removing the primary PC's (and any external modem's) power connection from the wall socket or from the surge protector. Lightening / summer storms can cause pain for PC systems and modems.

      If you are not using a very good power/surge protector, get one! Ask a sales person at your PC store for advice. Cost should be around $125 USA minimum for a "Backup UPS" battery-type power/surge protector.

      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: 1955, 1957
  • Other deals we found interesting-and-not-too-hard this month (number of times to restart is in parentheses):

  • Freecell Deal Numbers: 1961 and 1963(1)
  • A different type of deal was:

  • Freecell Deal Number: 1956.
    Number of times I had to re-start to complete in lost-count moves: 3

    A tough set of deals, are deals: 1955-thru-1963. It took us six restarts to complete the nine deals with five of the nine deals requiring no restarts(fifteen deals, in all). If you try this stretch of nine deals, let me know if you can complete the nine deals with less than a total of fifteen deals and how many of 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:

Or send snail-mail to:

P.O. Box 58223
Raleigh NC 27658


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