Newsletter Comments from SCScompA
Newsletter Date: November 1, 2000
A year has gone by since I started these newsletters. Incredible, how fast time has gone by since I began these monthly chats and I have appreciated hearing from you.
Some matters that came up as I wrote the first twelve newsletters include:
- What a home PC computer configuration looks like. I continue to hold that a $3000 budget (hardware -- including printer and scanner -- plus software) is what is preferred for the primary PC in your home. A second PC (probably a laptop) is very nice and a budget of $2000 for that is fine.
An Ethernet home network or something similar is in the near future if you already are not "connected" (when you have multiple PCs in the home).
256 Meg memory for the main home PC is what I now recommend, 128 Meg memory for the other machines (for example, a laptop). Hard disk for the laptop should be about 5 Gigabytes to allow for dual booting Windows 2000 Professional and Windows Millennium (98). Hard disk for the $3000-budget home PC is not an issue -- it will no doubt be in the 20-to-30 Gig arena.
A home printer price of $200 gives quite nice service and a scanner in the area of $100-to-$150 is sufficient for my home PC work.
A budget of $10 per month for printer supplies is a good starting point.
Internet costs continue to hold at about $22 USA per month. If you move to a high-speed (for example a cable connection) service the cost seems to be about $45 per month but you may save some phone costs. In my home PC environment, the dial service (I use America Online) fits my needs for multiple PCs and multiple locations I want to use the Internet (travel, etc.).
- eMail use: Think about etiquette. Never send a note if you are in an "angry" mode; pick up the phone and call/sort the matter out over the phone or handle the matter in person.
Think about responding -- either negative or positive -- when you receive an eMail from a friend. It may be better to respond "negatively" than ignoring eMail. A "thanks but no thanks" may be better than no response.
Likewise, when you send an eMail: Do not expect a response! Don't let it bother you -- or, become a negative to you and to your friend -- if you do not get an answer. People have more to do than send/receive eMails!
Although the above matters seem contradictory: They are, simply, a matter of "life in the eMail world". eMail can be a wonderful thing -- if you let it be.
- Good Internet Web page use:
- Newspapers. I view the Minneapolis Star Tribune Web page daily (http://www.startribune.com/) and can recommend it for both International and USA news in addition to news of local Minnesota. If you do not have a favorite online newspaper, give it a try.
Certainly, take a look at your own local newspaper Web page. Ours is the Raleigh News and Observer (http://www.news-observer.com/) and has a lot of good information but often has less International news than a larger-city newspaper.
Let me know how your local newspaper's Web page compares to either the Minneapolis Star Tribune or the Raleigh News and Observer Web pages.
- Online radio. I use the radio-on-the-Web often for USA football game reporting as well as baseball games. Also, listening to International or local radio stations on the Web for music/news is a common pleasure. A good set of earphones while you are working on the PC is a must (no reason to bother other people!).
A year ago, I would not have put "quality speakers" and headphones in my $3000 PC budget. Now, I do.
Let me know if you have favorite Web radio you listen to -- or, if you want any recommendations for what I use and how to get to the Web radio.
- Software. I use the most: PaintShopPro, Microsoft Word, WordPad, and Lotus Organizer.
Games I use regularly: Freecell -- nearly every day! Hoyle Classic Hearts -- once a week or so. Bridge Baron -- a few times a month. Links Golf -- a few times a year.
By the way: Later on in this newsletter I mention a few "easy"/"fun" Freecell deals I ran across this month (in addition to the reported-to-you "difficult" Freecell deal I report each month).
- Operating systems. I use Windows Professional and recommend it for home users. I use Windows Millennium (98) rarely. I know nothing of Apple/etc. -- but, I am sure that approach is good!
Dual boot your systems to give yourself an option.
- Scanned and/or digital pictures on a home user PC. A LOT of this activity on my PC. For personal pleasure/use and sharing with others at their convenience.
Scanned "other information than pictures" is another addition to home computing that often is made use of.
- Using HTM and local Web pages to view/share information for a home PC user.
- Back up user data as often as you do not want to recreate it if your system dies! I still use ZIP disks. Many PCs now use Read-Write CD-ROMs. I, currently, have no preference and as long as you are using SOME type of backup for your user data on a regular basis: Good!
Include in your main PC a battery backup UPS system. $100-to-$200 USA well spent and can be in your $3000 budget for your primary PC.
Although other matters came up over the past year, the above came immediately to mind as I write this newsletter. Let me know what additional matters are important to you.
It will be interesting to see how matters change/evolve as the years go by.
Good luck with YOUR home computing.
Contact me regarding any matter in this newsletter that causes you concern or you want to otherwise discuss.
eMail to: SCScompA@aol.com
Miscellaneous Comments Regarding Home Computer Use Matters that Came Up in September
- My home PCs and Windows Millennium.
Well, I was not certain if I would move the Win 98 parts of my home systems to Windows Millennium at this time -- but, I did. I am not a regular Win 98/Millennium user: I use Windows 2000 Pro (as we have discussed a number of times in the past; and, I repeat my advice for a home user to use Windows 2000 Pro). In any case, a few comments about Millennium from my experience in Oct. 2000:
- The installation of Windows Mill required more hard disk space than I hoped for. This is not a concern for a normal home PC -- but, it is a concern for laptops that are dual booting (as are mine).
The installation of Windows Mill required free space of around 500 meg. In my case, I had a laptop that I had allocated only 1-Gig for the dual-boot Win 98 side of things and it was not convenient to get 500 meg freed up. I succeeded -- but, after the install/upgrade of Win 98 to Win Millennium there was significantly less free space than Win 98 Second Edition took. I am not certain why.... it seems that Win 98 Mill takes even more DASD than Windows Pro.... but, I will live with that. It, just surprised me.
I asked for the install/upgrade of Windows Mill to NOT save the "old" Win 98 Second Edition files -- but, Win Mill still seemed to take significantly more space than did Win 98 Second Edition. Yes, I removed obvious files (samples, etc.) that Win Mill installed and I don't need -- but, I still was surprised.
Again: This is not an issue for a normal home PC system that has sufficient free DASD. It is, however, a matter for concern of a laptop user who allocates only 1-gig DASD for Win 98/Mill.
I will, from now on, recommend 2-gig DASD for a Win Mill system hard disk space instead of a previous recommendation of 1-gig. I also recommend 2-gig for Windows Pro system hard disk space.
Try to keep 0.5 gig (500 meg) free on your Windows systems' hard disk for use of the Win Mill running system and for both Windows Mill and Windows Pro for use during software updates.
- I do not use Windows 98/Mill enough to comment as to the value of moving to Windows Mill. I am a believer (perhaps naively so) that Microsoft updates its operating system enough when it comes out with a "major" update that it is worth moving to their current system. Other than the "surprise" that Win Mill took significantly more disk space than Win 98 Second Edition: I am not discouraged with using Win Mill. Is it worth doing? Who knows....
During the update to Win Mill, I had a couple of reasons to telephone Microsoft and their phone tech support people were very responsive and willing to assist. That is always encouraging!
- If I were you and you are not already using it: I still recommend a dual boot Windows system (if you are using Windows!) of Windows 2000 Pro and Windows Millennium (if you have application reasons for using Windows Mill). Based upon my home computer experience, the around-$300 max cost for Win Pro has been worth it and I can recommend it for the long term.
- Web browsers and Language Packs.
I had reasons this month to access Web pages that resulted in a request for me to upgrade the Web browser for language packs. I had not seen this before and, although the upgrade took some hard disk space -- the online update of the requested language packs went fine. Again, this "increase of used-hard-disk space" is normally not an issue for a home PC that has sufficient free space -- but, it may be an issue for your laptop.
If you are asked to upgrade your Web browser's language pack support and you have (for example) 50-meg free space: Update!
- I am sometimes asked what specifications I use for pictures I place on Web pages. If, in the following brief discussion, you want additional information: Contact me.
I use JPG (JPEG) format. Why? It seems quite transportable across systems and once I started using JPGs I just stuck with it.
I try to keep the length (top-to-bottom) 550 pixels or less. The length (top-to-bottom) of the picture is more important to me than is the width. I do not mind using the Web browser horizontal scroll bar.
A width of 800 pixels fits a lot of displays. More than 800 pixels require the user to often use the Web browser horizontal scroll bar.
I scan pictures/documents at 300 dpi per inch. This ends up in PaintShop Pro at 300 pixels per inch. I suspect I could decrease this and the display quality would not be affected -- but, I have not taken the time to experiment. If I ask PaintShop Pro for a new/blank palette/picture the PaintShop Pro default is 72 pixels per inch. If I then move a scanned 300-dpi picture to the new/blank picture I end up with a still-nice display. Someday I try to scan at 72 dpi and see if I can tell the difference.
The JPGs I work with typically approximate 50k-disk space for a "normal" picture and 100-to-150K for a "large" picture.
Download/display of pictures on my 56kbps modem (attached, effective speed about 49000 bps) takes about 45 seconds per picture.
I use HTM and Web browsers offline very often to view local HTM files that display pictures. If is NOT necessary to use HTM only online through the Internet. We have talked about this in the past and if you are uncertain about what I am saying about this or any other matter, contact me.
A few reasons for displaying HTM/pictures locally and not through the Internet?
- Maintenance matters that came up this month:
I talked about the increased disk space for Windows Millennium. I also should mention that the current PaintShop Pro 7 takes additional DASD space than it did on earlier versions. Again, this may be a concern to only laptop users. You can remove some samples/documentation from the PaintShop Pro directory to save some space.
- A good Web page I came across this month:
I hate to be repetitive: But, use the Web space of an online newspaper you enjoy. I continue to be pleased with the Minneapolis Star Tribune Web space (http://www.startribune.com/) for USA/International news in English and the Zurich, Switzerland We space (http://tages-anzeiger.ch/ta/taHome.html) for Swiss/International news in German. Let me know what you use!
Contact SCScompA if you have any comments or questions about the above.
Another example of Using HTM (Web page) parameters to view/show information.
Earlier this year I received in the mail a folder that contained a lot of information I felt I could use enough to place it online. For example, I might want to know the days of the month that Easter falls on in 2002 (Easter travel/hotel rates affect my vacation schedules). Or, I might want to know what are the dates for a particular horoscope. Or I might want to know the birthstone/celebration for a particular year's wedding anniversary.
What I did was:
- Scan the folder's information.
- Place the scanned information, using PaintShop Pro, into a format I could use in HTM-referenced JPGs.
- Build an HTM that worked.
The example may be viewed by clicking on:
Another example of using scanned information and HTM tags.
Let me know if you want the ZIP of all the above so you can use it locally on your PC or laptop.
Don't hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments on the above or for any related discussion.
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" games this month:
- Freecell Deal Numbers: 1111, 1123, 1204, 1217, 1261
Other deals we found interesting-and-not-too-hard this month (number of times to restart is in parentheses):
- Freecell Deal Numbers: 1212(2), 1264(1), 1288(3), 1309(4)
A different type of deal was:
- Freecell Deal Number: 1196.
Number of times I had to re-start to complete in lost-count moves: 6
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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