Newsletter Comments from SCScompA

Newsletter Date: November 30, 2004

Welcome to my newsletters.

Well: I lie. This newsletter is dated November, 2004 -- but, will not be "out" until sometime in December. Four months late.

In any case - I hope that your holiday season and end-2004 is going well.

The image shown above, right, is a result of what I emphasize with this month's newsletter: Some new (to me) equipment I brought into my home computing system since we last talked via these newsletters. Every few years an update is necessary -- and this was recently done, in my case. I discuss some matters related to the update in this month's newsletter.

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).

This Could Be Said of Men, As Well

We All Feel Like This Once In Awhile: Enjoy!


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:


Recent Upgrades To My Home Computing Environment

Every few years I need to upgrade my primary home computer. Those of you who regularly read my newsletters know that I adhere to the "$3000" rule: When purchasing a home computer system, budget $3000 for your computer, software, and primary connecting devices.

Well, I purchased my replacement computer for around $1600. I did not need to purchase software (I have it from the replaced-system) (for example: Windows 2000 Pro, Microsoft Office including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, plus imaging software (I use PaintShop Pro) and other miscellaneous software. I also did not have to purchase a display, printer or scanner (I had replaced the printer and scanner earlier in the month... the display that I have is fine). If I added these amounts to the computer's $1600 I would have been around the $3000 figure.

I purchased the computer from a local store that I have used in the past (in fact, the same store was used for the replaced computer that had been purchased seven years ago; a nice "run" for a home computer).

The Computer

The system I purchased included:

  • $60 Assembly fee - Intrex PC

  • $120 Motherboard and Processor: Intel 865GBFL Socket 478, Onboard Video/ Audio, LAN, SATA, USB2.0, DDR400
    $215 Intel Pentium 4 3.0GHz Retail Box with Fan, HT, 800MHz FSB,1MB cache, Socket 478

  • $66 Case: Intrex Tower ATX Case - Front USB/Firewire/Audio
    $60 400W ATX Power Supply FSP 60PN w/ 120mm Ball Bearing Fan, 18/24 dBA
    $13 SilenX 80mm Ultra Quiet 11.8/14.4dBA, 1400/2400rpm, 18/28CFM, Smart Case Fan

  • $190 Memory: 1GB Memory via two 512MB DDR PC3200 (400MHz) modules

  • Drives:
    $15 Floppy Drive, 3.5" 1.44MB,
    $110 120GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive, 8MB Buffer
    $90 80GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive, 8MB Buffer
    $80 Iomega 250MB internal IDE ZIP Drive, OEM

  • $120 Optical Drives: Lite On 16X Dual Layer, DVDRW Drive w/software

  • $40 Modem: USRobotics 56k v.92 PCI Internal Winmodem ($10 mail-in USR rebate)

  • Input Devices:
    $18 Logitech Optical Mouse, 3-Button with Scroll, PS2
    $13 Multimedia Keyboard, PS/2

  • $28 Audio: Creative Labs SoundBlaster Live! 5.1, OEM
    $70 Creative Labs Inspire 5200 Dolby 5.1 Speakers, 6-piece w/ Subwoofer, 47W RMS

  • Accessories:
    $3 UDMA33 IDE Ribbon Cable, 18"
    $40 Cyberpower 425VA UPS

  • Extra: $36 Two PCI Bi-directional Parallel/Printer cards End up with 3 useable Parallel Ports (For old scanner and external modem)

  • Printer: No Printer Selected.

  • Software: No Software Selected.

  • $99 Warranty / Internet: Lifetime Labor, one year parts, Intrex limited hardware warranty

  • Total Cost: $1486 plus state tax

I mention the above configuration and costs as a potential price/guide/comparison for use if you are going to replace/upgrade your home computing system soon.

Certainly, you may decide to not get a system as described above. For example:

  • Reminder: I want/hope my computer system to "take care" of my home computing needs for five years or more. Some users decide to upgrade every two years or so. That may be a different type of system than the one above and the reasons (below) that I comment on may not apply to a two-year upgrade plan.

    My comments, below, are in the importance-that-I-perceive-them-to-be order.

  • Hard disks: I wanted two. For a number of reasons (including performance, future products I may add to my home computer system). I am happy with the two hard disks and I recommend when you discuss your possible-configuration with your home computer marketer/distributor you purchase as fast/efficient (with reasonable capacity; I chose the 120Mb and 80Mb. The speed of the hard disks helps a lot when working with multiple applications concurrently (for example, PaintShop Pro while also working online or working with Word or Excel). Any application that does a lot of opening/closing of files can benefit from speedy hard disks.

  • Memory: I opted for 1Mb. For now, certainly, less than 1Mb would suffice -- and memory is an "easy" upgrade later if you choose to go to a low-level number at product purchase time. However, in a couple of years I am quite sure that I will be happy with 1Mb. I would recommend, today, at least 256Kb and, preferably 512Kb or more. I am satisfied with 1Mb.

  • CPU speed: If you are purchasing from a reputable home computer dealer, you will be offered differing "engine" speeds. It is purely a price decision (as are most of your system-decisions). I chose 3.0 Ghz. This is fifteen times the speed of the replaced 7-year-old system. Although I am happy with the 3.0 Ghz decision -- the most tasks that I do a lot (Internet/Web/eMail and Word) definitely do not need to be fifteen times the speed of my old system. The other primary application that I use (PaintShop Pro) does benefit -- and the Word work that I do that includes a lot of graphics likewise benefits from the increased CPU speed: However, the above-mentioned fast hard disks and 1Mb memory contributes greatly to my current "fast" home computer system more than, in my opinion does the fifteen-fold increase in CPU engine.

  • CD/RW and DVD/RW: I chose a combination drive, since the company I bought my machine from says the drive is fine. We see, over the next couple of years, if a combination drive was a good decision. I do not use the home computing system for music/video CD/RW and DVD/RW reasons, at this time. However, I definitely use the RW support for backup and move-information-to-non-networked systems (for example, to bring a set of data files to a PC/laptop outside of my house).

  • I have a number of ZIP diskettes as a result of my work on my old PC. I chose to have a ZIP disk in my new machine as well. So far, I am pleased with this decision -- again, for backup use (my user data) and for moving information to another system that has a ZIP drive.

  • Sound card: I opted to have a separate sound card -- and, I replaced my 7-year-old PC speaker setup -- and so far am happy with the decision. I enjoy listening to music when I work on the home computer system and sometimes use the PC to generate the sound! So, why not have "good" sound. Yes, the extra sound card is overkill. However, so far: I am happy with the decision.

  • Video: I originally configured the new PC with a video card rather than using the "on board" video support that comes with the computer system that I chose. However, I decided that the cost of an extra video card is not justified (I know that this comment differs from the above sound-card discussion...). Again, so far, I am happy with the video support that comes directly with the system I purchased and I do not regret the decision to not have a separate video card. I do not do "complicated" video -- my graphics are "normal" photography-type work with some not-heavy-in-3D-game's "fun" activity.

  • Networking: A necessity for me and, in my view, any home computing system. Yes, the wireless world is of value. Again, I had configured a separate network card, but I chose to use the "on board" network support that came with the system for now. I can add another network card later if need (for internal house routing). So far, I have a single network and the one connecter is fine with my external box router. If you are not a "networking"-oriented person, ignore this matter for now. Your PC dealer will normally include network hardware with the system -- but, ask to make sure that the support is there. Remember, you want the system for years.

  • Software: No software was ordered with this system. The computer store provided software for use with the CD/RW and DVD/RW. Other than that, I used software I previously have purchased, including the primary operating system: Windows 2000 Professional.

  • Other hardware: As mentioned earlier, I used current attaching-to-the-main-computer hardware. In my case, the video display, printer and scanner.

The above are thoughts that come immediately to mind as reminders for a home computer purchaser. If you have additional thoughts or questions about the above configuration, don't hesitate to send me an eMail.


Shortly before my seven-year-old PC decided to not work any longer, my second (in the seven years) printer needed new cartridges. This is a normal situation -- and I fully intended to purchase the cartridges and continue with the "old" (it was nearly 3-years old) printer. However, when I got to the store for purchasing the total of $65 USA two cartridges -- I opted to get a new printer.

All of the above discussion is with regards to HP (Hewlett Packard) printers. I have "always" used HP printers -- and, other than replacing the cartridges at $65 each six months or so (at my print rate/style: I probably print more color than most home computer users, and I use "normal" print output all the time rather than use "draft" as a default and, in turn, choose a higher print detail if needed. I do use "normal" all the time for color; the HP quality at normal is sufficient for my use).

In any case - for less than $200 USA plus a $50 mail-in rebate from HP (promised, but not here yet.... as with many such-promised rebates...) - I purchase an HP 5650 Deskjdet printer.

I really like it. I am sure there are a number of competitors in the printing field that do as good a job and are as usable -- but, it is the best HP printer I have had for home computing.

The bad news: I would guess that the model has been replaced by HP with something "better" -- and the "replacement" model has different print cartridges! That seems to be a familiar path in HP's strategy.

However, if I was going to buy an HP printer for home computing use: I would contact HP printer support via their Web page and see what they recommend as a replacement to the HP 5650.

What do I like about the printer:

  • "Borderless" printing. I have not understood with other HP printer support how to print on the entire page -- I often got into a situation where the printer support, no matter what I did, was not able to print exactly the way I wanted it to. With the following: I am quite pleased!

  • Front panel, one-time-set, for print quality. I like this feature. I mentioned earlier in this newsletter item that I tend to use Normal all the time -- even for photographic paper/images. This front-panel option is very usable. Give it a try (I assume that follow-on to the HP 5650 printers will/or/have similar support.

    I use the middle setting (Normal) all the time - even for photo paper/images.

  • Front Panel Warnings: If the printer recognizes a non-specified-correctly paper size (it happens to me a lot with envelopes) the buttons at the front left of the printer blink and you can make a decision to push them and proceed with printing.

A home computer user should be able to enjoy three years or more of a printer such as the HP 5650.

A few dislikes/comments:

  • Print cartridges: A "new" set of print cartridges for the HP 5640 as compared with my previous HP printer. Well, I know HP has to "stay in business". However, I would like to think they could continue to do that by coming up with improved technology than base continued financial success on not allowing for us to continue to use our "old" cartridges.

    Be careful about purchasing cartridges in advance ("buying 2 packs"). Especially after your printer is a couple of years old.

  • Printable paper size: I would like it if, even for home computer oriented printers, we could print on poster-size paper. HP should be able to come up with a way to do so and keep the printer cost within a home computer user's budget.

  • Paper holder: The front piece for holding the paper sheet(s) after being printed is quite flimsy (plastic). I am getting used to it -- and, I can see why it is designed as it is (it is a removable piece, to allow for loading paper and envelopes). However, when first using the HP 5650 I was uncertain of how it connected and wondered if it was, even, broken! Now? I get along with it fine.


I was not expecting to replace my old scanner (a parallel-port connected Microtek Scanmaker V6UPL). It had been working fine.

After installing the new PC I connected the parallel cable from the old scanner to the new PC -- and tried to get it to work. A couple of times since I purchased the Microtek V6UPL I had to re-install the parallel-connected scanner and, when so doing, it took a few "attempts" to get it to work.... but, eventually was successful. In this installation, however, the installed scanner worked one day! Then, it gave up. Why? Who knows. Certainly, not Microtek tech support or I. We tried. No luck.

So - I went to the Web, looked up "scanner reviews" and tried to read up a little on what other people's experiences were with the "latest" home-computer-oriented scanner (approximately $200 USA budget).

What I found was the Epson Perfection 4180 Photo scanner. So far, after six-weeks or so: I am very pleased.

What I like about the scanner:

  • Fast!: I use my scanner a lot. Every day. Some, for scanning documents and photos -- but, most often for scanning fabric for use in a Web page that I manage. In all scanning uses, up until now, I have had very fast/good-quality results.

    The Epson 4180 scanner, at 150 DPI (a level of "detail" specified when scanning) is about ten times faster than the older Microtek V6UPL. It saves me a lot of scan time per day/week.

  • Quality: Certainly, this is important. If a home user copies photos (or in my case, 90% of the time I scan fabric) then, scanned-quality is a major factor. Up until now: I am very happy with the scanned output with whatever material I have scanned.

  • USB Connectivity to the PC: Installation was, as expected for a USB-connected device: Simple. Quick. Successful.

    The Epson-provided software was a version that in Professional Mode was what I was familiar with while using the old scanner. Familiar. Easy to use. As expected.

What I dislike about the scanner:

  • Size: The scanner bed (for scanning) is not legal-paper-sized, it is normal 8 1/2" x 11". I sometimes could use a larger scan area. I know we "get what we pay for" -- but, in the future I will take a scanner with a legal-paper-sized area if it is within my budget.

  • Mail-in rebate: I promptly mailed it into the Epson-instructed place. Many weeks ago. No luck, yet, in getting the mailed-in rebate back. Typical, for mail-in rebates. Someday, I guess, it will arrive.

Digital Camera

This summer, a few months before the PC broke, I added to my home computing environment a new digital camera.

As those of you who follow my Web page have seen in previous newsletters, I use my digital camera a lot and emphasize sharing/using/showing digital camera results on a PC display -- and, printing selected digital camera results.

My first digital camera, still working fine, was a 1.5 megapixel Olympus. It is now five years old -- and I replaced it with another Olympus camera, a C-5050ZOOM.

The Olympus C5050ZOOM is a "5 Megapixel" camera; certainly, a step above the previous 5-year-old 1.5 Megapixel camera I was used to.

Again, as with the other home computer user's equipment mentioned earlier in this newsletter: I am pleased with the C5050ZOOM.

A few things that I like about the C5050ZOOM:

  • Output picture quality: As I mentioned above, I had been getting 1.5 megapixel digital photos with my previous camera. I default the new-to-me C5050ZOOM to be 4.9 megapixels. I am very happy with the results I end up with in my PC.

    The 4.9 megapixel result in my PC is 2560 wide x 1920 high. Is this the "optimum" for my home computer environment (hard disk, display, printer)? I don't know. I do know, the 4.9 megapixels are higher quality (display and printing) than the previous 1.5 megapixels. Yes, my primary PC display is set at 1024 x 760 -- and the defaulted-to 2560 x 1920 will not fit on my display at 100% size.

    When I want to display the image on my PC display, I use PaintShop Pro to adjust the image as we have discussed numerous times in my newsletters. I adjust the image to be a max of 600 pixels high (as compared to the from-the-C5050ZOOM 1920 pixels), keeping the proportion of the original image. Or, I adjust the image to be a max of 1000 pixels wide (as compared to the from-the-C5050ZOOM 1920 pixels), keeping the proportion of the original image -- if the result of the adjustment is within the 600 pixel's high maximum for my PC system.

    If I print the image (up to a "normal" paper-size image that my printer handles: 8.5 inches wide by 11 inches high), I provide more pixels to application doing the resizing application (PaintShop Pro, in my case) as a base for the resized/smaller image than were provided by the previous 1.5 megapixels -- and the image prints quite well. I am quite satisfied!

  • Feel: The C-5050ZOOM feels great in the take-a-picture position. It has nice weight and balance while fitting the hands great.

  • Camera's Internals: The C-5050ZOOM is programmable. Have I taken advantage of this? No. Someday....

Dislikes that I currently have with the C-5050ZOOM include the following.

  • Flash "Automatic": Well, the C-5050ZOOM has some presets. I can default these -- but, I have not taken the time to set up the programming inside the C-5050ZOOM. Someday I will do that.

    The location of the flash set button is OK -- but, so far, I have to set it to "off" prior to setting (for example) another option, such as macro.

    The auto-flash on the C-5050ZOOM, for my use, is "too sensitive" and goes off in situations I find it should not do so.

    Someday I find out how to reset the default to be "no flash". Someday.

  • Documentation: Small printing, as with most of today's electronic equipment's documentation.

    What I did was to scan/enlarge some of the pages that I needed as I began using the C-5050ZOOM. That worked, for me, although I have not gone through much of the documentation.

The good news: I like the Olympus C-5050ZOOM. The bad news? They (Olympus) have no doubt replaced that model with another. What I would do if I were looking to purchase a digital camera in the price range of $400, would be to ask Olympus (or whatever digital camera manufacturer I choose) to try to recommend a match for the characteristics/ability of the Olympus C-5050ZOOM and then go to the Web and see if I could find a few online reviews of that suggested camera. Although the Web reviews are, sometimes, suspect... it is still something I tend to do rather than just purchase "blind".

PC VirusScan and Firewall

My previous McAfee VirusScan renew-DAT contract was over awhile ago. Although I was able to continue to upgrade the DAT (VirusScan specifics for the application's work), I eventually needed to renew the contract.

I decided to upgrade from VirusScan Version 8, to their latest offering -- rather than simply renewing the DAT contract.


Let's start with my dislikes:

  • Overall: I am very unhappy with the McAfee applications I purchased. The Version 9 that I ended up with does not allow me to just, at my convenience, go to the McAfee Web page and update the DAT. It requires me to do this as a function of what they call in this version (at least the Version 9 package that I purchased) "McAfee Security Center" and its Upgrade support.

    I do not like this approach -- I prefer to go to the vendor's Web page at my convenience and in my own way -- not go there as a result of some on-my-computer application other than a Web browser.

    Worse than the above, I ask (via a configuration parameter to McAfee Security Center) that the product does NOT try to do the update itself. I expected, in so doing, that I would not be "prompted" by the product about updates. No luck. The product has built-in timers (by the week) that prompt me even though I have configured it to let me control matters.

    I have multiple home computer users on my PC and I do not expect the other users to be presented with application "pop ups" for situations that I take care of myself. Other users of my computer should not be bothered with such matters.

    The upgrade process itself appears to be aimed at high-speed internet users. It is not "fast" for me, as a dialup user. In McAfee's Version 8, all I had to do was get the DAT file. Now, with Version 9, the upgrade process is more involved and, in addition, is done with an internal application. Not convenient, for me (and, I assume, for other dialup users.

  • Support: I have not found any way to discuss initial installation issues with McAfee by phone. Yes, they provide a phone number that offers the "first two minutes" free. When has a home computer user ever had a question/problem that can be solved in two minutes? In my experience: Never. I very much object to large companies not allowing for at least initial installation support. McAfee does have easy-to-access Chat technical support. I have used it multiple times since I installed McAfee Version 9. The chat support is good from an access point of view. The chat support has not assisted me at all; invariably the chat tech support discussion ends with "Re-install the product". Not fun, for a home computer user.
  • Mailed in rebates: I also do not have a mailed-back response to my mailed-in rebate.

What I like about the McAfee applications I purchased:

  • Both applications (McAfee VirusScan and McAfee Personal Firewall) work when installed/updated.

    That is the good news.


Good luck with your additions/upgrades in your home computing environment!

I will be expanding upon some of the above comments in 2005 newsletters.

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. Examples of Scanning - Holiday Related Materials

  2. 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 in July-thru-November 2004

  • Miscellaneous Matters.

    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).

    America Online -AOL- and its Current Dialup Support for Older PCs

    I have used AOL for years. Since about 1995.

    I have multiple PCs and a laptop.

    About two months ago, two of my systems (both "old"/"slow" systems) are not connected to AOL at "optimum" 56Kbps modem connection speed. Instead, they both are connected at 26400.

    I have had no luck with AOL's (tech support) advice on what is the matter. However, I am convinced it is related to AOL's server support. I have no idea how/why AOL would make a decision as to what hardware/telephone connection speed to use -- other than it may be related to how "slow" my old systems are.

    However, I mention this since:

    • I have three PCs of value to the discussion. Two "old/slow" PCs. One "new/fast" PC. All have the same operating system (Windows 2000 Professional).

      The fast PC and its modem is OK.

      Both of the old/slow PCs connect slow (26400 Bps) as compared to the expected 48000+ Bps). Each of these two PCs are different versions of AOL. The laptop is AOL 8-Plus, the other PC (a tower model PC) is AOL 9. Naturally, both the PCs have different manufacture's modems.

      Up until two months ago, both of the slow/old PCs connected fine. For years.

      I suspect AOL at the server side. Amazing/surprising to me, if AOL is someone making a conscious decision to do this when old/slow PCs connect.

    • I have tried multiple phone numbers, even to multiple cities (as a long distance call).

      All times, the connection is slow.

    I would like to believe it is something at my end -- not the AOL server end. I will let you know if I ever find the reason!

    If you suspect that you know the reason or have another comment, please let me know!

    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 2004 games is the same as in 2003, $35 (no fees were charged in 2002). In 2003 I "passed" on that -- but, I opted to pay the $35 fee in 2004. So far, I am satisfied -- but, I still think they overcharge and $15 for the season would have been a correct price for Web radio. We see, as the season progresses, if I believe the $35 was worth it and if I do the same in 2005. So far: I am leading in the OK-for-2005 direction.

      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:
    Engine 4.3.20
    Build 9.0.10
    DAT 4.0.4410 dated 11/24/2004.

    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: 3122 (quite easy) and 3124.
  • Other deals we found interesting this month (number of times to restart is after the slash):
    FreeCell Deal Numbers/Restarts that were fun!: 3120/1, 3127/1, 3129/3. Give these a try and see if you can get them completed quicker.
  • Another different type of deal was:
    FreeCell Deal Number: 3123. I reported this earlier as being able to be completed by me in two deals, however I had a reason to try it again and it took 8 deals! It was fun, however. Give it a try and let me know how you did on FreeCell deal 3123.
    Number of times I had to re-start to complete in lost-count moves: 8

  • 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


Use your Web browser's Back button or to go to SCScompA's main Web page and other newsletters, click on: SCScompA main Web page or go to any of the pages pointed to in the SCScompA frame at the left of this panel if you are viewing this within a frame of the main Web page.