Newsletter Comments from SCScompA

Newsletter Date: October 31, 2006

Welcome to my as-time-allows' newsletters.

A number of months have passed since I last "published" a newsletter. I have given up any hope of getting these newsletters out monthly. How often will be they be "delivered"? Well.... once in awhile.

The image, above right, contains a picture of a food recipe that I discuss later on in this newsletter.

If you are in the Northern Hemisphere (as are we) I hope your Summer was terrific -- and, your Winter has many good things coming to you!

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).

What A Star!

We often think "ours" are special. Well: They are!

Who Do You Think You Are Kidding?

Sometimes we fool ourselves; we continue on while under the illusion of being special.


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:


Forums and Bulletin Boards

I have used Forums, primarily when asking a question and (hoping for) an answer. The Forums that I have used, in fact, have been useful to me.

So: I have been a comfortable-happy-appreciative user of Forums.

I have not used "BLOGs" -- except if you count this Newsletter approach (that you are reading as a write this month's newsletter).

So: I know very little about a BLOG.

I was asked, recently, to set up a BLOG and/or Forum for a customer's Web site. I thought this would be a relatively easy matter to do. I found, however, that it was not a 1-day job.

Most of the sites that I manage are hosted on Earthlink. I called the Earthlink support people and asked if they have a BLOG/Forum application that I could use and the answer was "Yes". However, when I looked at what was available I felt it to be lacking what I would recommend a customer to use.

I, then, did what any reasonable person would do: Go to "Google" (or a search application that you prefer) and see if there is a BLOG/Forum application that I could use or buy. The result? A few that looked promising -- but, neither of the two that I tried would install on Earthlink's server. Believe me... I tried installing them. I followed the installation instructions of the two applications that I tried (each time, over a day's worth of trying..) and, even contacted both of the supplied-applications' support sites/BLOGs/forums. In each case, the support site was responsive -- and I appreciate that -- but, their advice was not sufficient to get the applications installed on Earthlink's server. Why not? I don't know. I assume that successful BLOG/forum installation (other than the supplied-by-Earthlink's basic application that I found to be lacking for customer use) is possible.

What I want is:

  • Something installable on an Earthlink server. Earthlink provides PERL support, and that is something any reasonable BLOG/Forum application seems to use.

  • Professional-looking end-user panels/presentation. Usable by a customer, not simply a single user trying to set up something for themselves.

  • Allow for using the BLOG/Forum "anonymously" yet require the user to initially logon and provide a contact information (probably, eMail id and name). After this initial signon/registration, the user could re-enter the "BLOG/Forum"-area and use a second (anonymous) ID rather than their actual eMail ID and name.

  • Allow for recalling "threads" of the BLOG/Forum -- and, naturally, updating/commenting on the items in the particular thread.

  • Allow a system administrator to monitor the BLOG/Forum application-site and modify/cancel or otherwise manage the data.

Certainly, medium-to-large websites have such applications. The primary one that I have used and continue to use once in awhile is off of Microsoft's Web site. I use their support forums -- especially when testing a new/upcoming operating system (Windows) or other application.

I also use the American Online (AOL) Finance application once in awhile and follow a particular companies' Message Board.

Also, if I have a new-to-me device (such as a newly purchased digital camera) I may find (via a search engine or the product's home page) a BLOG/Forum and either just browse the entries or become a direct participant as needed.

So - I am a sometimes-user of BLOG/Forums. Up until now, however, I have not had a need to set up my own Forum/BLOG.

I do not have the application-programming resources of Microsoft or AOL or other "major" Web sites.

I am a single-user who supports a few small Websites.

However, I do see a reason for a BLOG/Forum for my customers, so I continued to look around (using search engines) to find one that might get me started. I eventually came across: Greymatter.

Using search keywords: "greymatter download" I found a download version and, in turn, have downloaded it and am beginning to use it as an example of a BLOG.

Why have I mentioned this in a Home Computer oriented newsletter? Well, I know that home users sometimes have a desire to share their information to friends/family. I assume that users, today, of "large" Websites that share information (primarily messages and photos) may evolve to have needs of individual home users setting up their own BLOG/forum.

The example version of greymatter that I implemented on an Earthlink server took me a day-or-so. I investigated how to modify/use the application, using their provided template-oriented approach. This is not something that a home computer user would do -- and, I am not recommending that to be done!

I, simply, wanted to know how such an application might be organized. That's all.

At this time, the major "challenge" from the greymatter application that I used is that of user privacy. This is always a challenge -- and, no matter how private we want to be: We need to follow some reasonable guidelines.

  • Never meet "offline" anyone you "meet" on a BLOG/Forum. Never. Period.

  • Never "trust" anyone you "meet" on a BLOG/Forum. Never. Period.

  • Never give or use or place-upon a BLOG/Forum ANY personal or known-to-be-personal-to-someone-else information. Never. Period.

  • If you are ever asked for ANY personal or known-to-be-personal-to-someone-else information while on a BLOG/Forum, leave the online discussion immediately and do not re-enter the BLOG/Forum again. If you are a youngster (for this discussion, let's say: Under 18 years of age), if this item's matter happens: Tell your parent/guardian/teacher about the matter.

  • Never use an eMail ID on a BLOG/Forum that is your "private" eMail ID. Never. Period.

  • Never participate in a BLOG/Forum discussion that you are not comfortable with. Never. Period. Just leave the online discussion immediately if it is uncomfortable for you and do not re-enter the BLOG/Forum again. If you are a youngster (for this discussion, let's say: Under 18 years of age), if this item's matter happens: Tell your parent/guardian/teacher about the matter.

Discuss with your family/friends guidelines such as the above and do NOT assume that any user of the Internet is NOT using/participating in a BLOG/Forum. They are. Just, please, have a discussion of the above or any other-such guidelines.

The Internet can be -- is -- "valuable". Use it safely!

If you have other comments related to this item: Thank you, in advance, for the comments.

Backing Up and Using DVD/RW

Although we have talked a few times in these newsletters about backing up user data, I wanted to address this, again, as I have recently had some related-to-this-topic questions.

The initial question that I get is, normally: CD-R, CD+R, CD/RW or what?

Here is my response:

  • When you purchased your PC, you may have had something installed such as:

    CD/DVD Burner: Lite On 16X Dual Layer, DVD+-RW Drive w/software


    16x max. DVD+/-RW & 16x DVD

    If so: Good! You have DVD/RW.

    If the above-mentioned says "only" CD/RW -- then, you cannot burn DVDs; only CDs.

  • If you are not sure if you have RW, perhaps you can:

    Take a look at your "My Computer" panel and find the Compact Disk.

    Right-button click to see the Properties of your Compact Disk.

    Now, see if you see "DVDRW" or CDRW" or something equivalent.

Ok. Let's assume that you have a DVD/RW. This means that you can write on either DVDs or CDs.

Which to use? We are talking: DATA in this discussion. We are going to use the DVD or CD to WRITE Data. Why? For backup or portability to another computer system.

  • Capacity: DVD disks can hold over 4 Gigabytes of data. CD disks can hold around 0.6 Gigabytes of data.

    If your to-be-backed-up data fits on a CD, you may as well use that.

    If your to-be-backed-up data is more than 0.6 Gigabytes -- use a DVD.

    If your to-be-backed-up data is more than 4+ Gigabytes of data -- use some approach to limit the data. For example, create folders and move less than 4+ Gigabytes of data to those folders.

    Using a Right-button click, I see that this data folder would fit on 4+ Gigabytes of data -- so, I will back it up using a DVD disk.

    Again using a Right-button click, I see that this data folder would fit on 0.6 Gigabytes of data -- so, I will back it up using a CD disk.

    Naturally, if I wanted to I could put multiple folders on a "burned" disk until the disk's limit (either 0.6 Gigabytes for a CD or 4+ Gigabytes for a DVD) has been reached. My "burning" software will show a running-total of needed capacity as I choose that data is to be included in a specific burn.

  • Cost of the written-upon media is, in today's day-and-age, no longer a "real" concern. The DVD blank disks are more expensive than are CD blank disks, but both media types have dropped to the point that (for data) the cost-for-media is minimal, as we normally would do data backup one copy at a time -- and the frequency of this type of data backup might be once a week or so. Even if I backed up two DVDs-worth of data a week, the cost would be less than $1 per week.

    If I was going to make a significant number of copies of burned-upon CDs or DVDs, then naturally I would be more careful about cost. Generally, written-upon media is more expensive than the written-upon media

  • Use the appropriate written-upon media type.

    If you plan on purchasing a few DVD disks to write upon: - I normally use DVD-R, even though (if I remember correctly) DVD+R has higher capacity. Why? I was "burned" with +R on CD-rom -- it only worked on PCs that supported +R and, also, with music CDs it only worked on Sony equipment. - If you are going to only use the burned DVD on a PC or laptop, then probably... any of the formats other-than DVD RW (the physical media is read/write). Why not a DVD RW media? Because it will (as far as I know...) only work on a drive that is also RW -- and, sometimes, you find people's PCs and/or laptops that are not RW. The burned data disk (with my software, as I assume yours, there is a button that says: Burn a Data Disk -- and, there, you select DVD (or the software, more likely, will recognize it as a DVD media) will just look like it is on PC. Folders, etc. It does not look "zipped" or anything. The DVD media is dropping in price. If I remember correctly, I bought 50 DVD-Rs for about $15 (30 cents each).

    Good luck with your backing-up and using the backed up data.

Recipes - Cooking - Using Them!

Well, with the holiday season here: We will be cooking/baking a lot, as I am sure that you will be.

Following is a short example of how I recently used an old recipe.

If you have any comments/questions about any of the following -- give me a shout.

An Old recipe

I used, this morning, an "old" (well, if you call seven years old...) recipe that needed to be moved from a scanned version into a more-normal Word format. I bet that your household has "old" recipes that could be saved in a similar manner.

Getting a Word "Template" Document to use as a Format

I have a Word template that I built for such a purpose.

File->New points me to my saved Templates.

Getting a Word "Template" Document to use as a Format...

I have a Word template that I built for such a purpose.

My Recipe Format

I will move the information into this format.

Picture to be Used

I took a picture of this morning's baked treat, and will put this into the document.

Picture Moved to the Document

I Copy/Paste the picture into the Document. A Word-Table area.

Removing the Table

I choose to not have the picture within a Table, so I get rid of the Table!

Re-sizing/Moving the Picture

I change the Word default for my picture, to be something that allows me to easily move the image around. I use "Behind Text" most of the time.

Re-sizing/Picture is Placed

After setting up the picture-area, I am ready for the Text.

Ready to be Moved to My Main Recipe Document

After writing the text as desired -- I have a small DOC of this recipe.

Lastly, I copied the single page just built into my "master" recipe document. That file is now 63 pages long and more than 75-megabytes of data.

When I share the master recipe DOC with other family/friends, I burn it onto a CD as discuss in this newsletter's earlier item about using CD/DVD/RW.

Perhaps someday I build the master recipe document into an online HTM-shown file. Why not...???

If you want to download the single-page, click on the following:

Download: One-page Word DOC of French Toast Grand Marnier recipe.

Good luck with your holiday cooking/baking -- and, documenting your favorite (and, perhaps, old -- on old, tattered paper in someone's recipe box) recipes.

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. Calendar 2007
  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 during Feb 2006 thru October 2006

America Online

From my point of view, the primary thing that happened was: America Online decided to lower their cost to users. How low? Zero, if you have a broadband connection or connect through some other network provider. Why do I mention this? Well.... I personally like the way that AOL's eMail support is done. Also, I would like to have them remain in business. Are they perfect? No.

However, if you ARE an AOL user: Make certain, if you r AOL cost is not zero -- you give them a call and see how low the rate is for your service.

The following are repeats from previous month's newsletters. Nothing dramatic has come about for me to update the following.

Windows/PC Security - And Products Such as McAfee VirusScan

I am no longer a fan of McAfee VirusScan. Why? When I first purchased VirusScan (after the infamous Sept. 2001 Home PC Web/eMail viruses) I was a backer/user. Since then, McAfee no longer allows me to manage the updates -- even though they indicate in their product that I may do so. They indicate that I have the option of doing so, in the option field:

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

Obtaining Updates from Microsoft

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

I mention the above as a reminder.

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

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

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

Replacing Windows' Versions

As those of you who are regular readers of my Web newsletter know, I continue to use Windows 2000 Professional. The operating system has served me well over the past

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:

  • for USA's top Pro baseball listening. The fee has not bee published as of the writing of this newsletter. Last year, the audio cost around $14 USA for the entire season (as compared with $15 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 2006 games was the same as in 2004/5, $35 (no fees were charged in 2002). I "passed" on that this season. I think they overcharge and $15 for the season would have been a correct price for Web radio.

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

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

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

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

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

Maintenance Matters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good, maintenance-free time until we talk again.

Contact SCScompA if you have any comments or questions about the above.


FreeCell Game/Deal of the Month

We continue, in our household, doing FreeCell deals from 1-to-32000! We will NOT accomplish this task. We know that. However, as we go along in our for-fun-effort, yet frustration... I will mention once in awhile specific FreeCell deals we find challenging.

Note: If you are running your PC on Windows 98, it is possible you have to specifically install FreeCell. Just install Accessories/Games.

Let me know if these FreeCell games and the number of times we had to restart to solve the deal is about what you find. If you are going to attack deals 1-to-32000 and want to interact with us in that regard, let me know what thousand-or-so you are going to start with. We have completed deals through 3000. Now, we are attacking 3001-to-4000 and I would recommend you start with 4001! At the rate we are going (a little more than 100 deals a month) it will only take us 24 more years to complete the 32000 deals without your help. If you let us know what you have completed, it will take us less time!

I am adding to this column in the newsletter a few "special" games that we found during the month.

  • Deals we completed in one start and view as "easy"-but-still-fun games this month:
    FreeCell Deal Numbers: 3273, 3274 (fun and tricky), 3286 and 3300 (quite easy).
  • Other deals we found interesting this month (number of times to restart is after the slash):
    FreeCell Deal Numbers/Restarts that were fun!: 3288/1,3289/1,3294/2,3310/2,and 3316/2,3322/2. Give these a try and see if you can get them completed quicker.
  • Another different type of deal was:
    FreeCell Deal Number: 3328.
    Number of times I had to re-start to complete in lost-count moves: 3

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

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

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

Let me know how YOU do!

If you want to see our list of FreeCell Deals 1-thru-what we are working on now and our comments on how many times we had to restart the deal to find a solution, let me know -- or click on: SCScompA FreeCell Table of Completed Deals

To contact me about anything on this Web page, please: send mail to:

Or send snail-mail to:

P.O. Box 58223
Raleigh NC 27658


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