Newsletter Comments from SCScompA

Newsletter Date: September 1, 2000

What a nice August we had, weather-wise, here in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Not as warm as normally -- and, although enough rain to keep things green, not enough to have many mid-summer rainouts of any golf days. Lucky! Golf scores? Not much to brag about -- but, the golf walks are wonderful.

Last month I had a few comments come in about the PC configurations I mentioned in the August newsletter and, especially, why would I recommend a budget of $3000 for a home computer while there are so many nice systems for sale much less? Well, we have talked about that matter in the past but a couple of points I have to repeat:

In any case: Yes, you can get something for your home PC use for less than $3000 USA. However, I still recommend the above for your consideration as you purchase a primary home use PC.

Have a good start to the northern-hemisphere Fall season!

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

Dave Shogren
eMail to:


The PC Application Used The Most At our Home in August 2000

Other than America Online (which is for sure the application we use the most on our PC), we make a lot of use of PaintShop Pro -- and, that was the "most used other than America Online" application this month.

Following, are a few comments about how we used it in August and, generally, use PaintShop Pro.

  • I use PaintShop Pro as the primary vehicle for managing/modifying photos/pictures and other already-inside-the-PC information.

    Also, I use PaintShop Pro as the "driver"/front-end to my scanner.

    Any non-text information/pictures that are in my computer -- or will be brought into the computer with the scanner -- are, in my case, entering the world of PaintShop Pro.

    Note: For text-oriented data, I certainly use a word processing application (Microsoft Word or WordPad) once the text data is in my PC. If I scan text, I use the Caere OmniPage Wizard. Sometimes, for example, I scan a newspaper/magazine article for forwarding that online to someone rather than sending them a printed copy. I show an example of this later in this newsletter.

  • If not scanned information/pictures, another primary source for information/pictures I use with PaintShop Pro is the digital camera. I use my digital camera quite a lot.

  • I find that JPG (JPEG) format is a good, transportable, application-sharing format for information processed by PaintShop Pro. (Note: If you don't know what this means -- don't worry about it! Once you use a program such as PaintShop Pro or get involved with pictures, you will quickly become familiar with terms such as "JPG or JPEG"). Once information/pictures is being processed by PaintShop Pro I use the Save-As support of PaintShop Pro to convert the information/picture to JPG format if it is not already in that format.

  • I use the following features of PaintShop Pro the most:
    • Crop (cut-off information not necessary) information/picture.
    • Rotate or Flip the information/picture.
    • Adjust brightness of a picture or part of a picture. Sometimes, darken it, sometimes lighten.
    • Paint part of the information/picture. Sometimes, "whiten" (clear-out) something; sometimes simply change the color of something.
    • Flood fill (paint) a section of the information/picture that has a well-defined boundary (lines) around the section to be flood filled.
    • Add text to the information/picture.
    • Place multiple (separate) pieces of information/pictures into a single piece.

    There are many more-sophisticated uses of PaintShop Pro, but the above are the features I use the most.

Cost of PaintShop Pro is around $100. Their current version is 6.02 and they are just now starting public beta (early testing) of their upcoming version 7.

To see a few of this month's use of PaintShop Pro, click on: Selected Aug 2000 Examples of Using PaintShop Pro

SCScompA has a lab exercise aimed at a home user getting started with the use of PaintShop Pro. Contact us if you are interested in this lab.

Let me know what application on your home computer your home PC was used the most in the last month. Thanks.

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 August

  • In August I updated my main home PC and my primary-used laptop to Service Pack 1 (SP1). As I have mentioned in earlier newsletters I run Windows 2000.

    A few comments about SP1:

    • Reserve enough space on the disk space that holds Windows 2000 for both the work area and for the backup of the Windows that SP1 replaces. In my system, this work area was 500 Meg.

    • After SP1 is installed, assuming you have asked for a backup of the system being replaced, use the system for a few days at least -- then, if necessary, you can free up the backed-up files. In my case, I backed up the "back up" files on a Zip disk prior to removing them.

      To remove the backed-up files SP1 saved, it was necessary for me to use DOS commands from a DOS prompt. Have someone assist you if this is not something you are used to doing. The directory name holding the SP1-backed-up files is pointed to in the SP1 documentation.

    • SP1 behaved itself both from an install point of view and from a running point of view. I chose to not back up the SP1-replaced files on my laptop and the laptop upgrade of SP1 has performed fine.

    • Time to do the update was around 1-hour on each of my systems.

    • I chose to download SP1 from the Microsoft Web page using a 56Kb modem. I could have had a CD mailed to me at a cost -- but, I chose the free download path and although the download took a couple of hours: I made the correct decision. I will save SP1 on a ZIP disk for use on my other PCs.

      I was willing to pay the cost of the CD. I was, however, told by Microsoft their was a backlog of orders for SP1 and it would be a few weeks coming. This did not make sense to me.... poor prior planning by Microsoft, in my view!

    Why do I mention the above? Well, if you are a home user-oriented PC user you probably are considering upgrading your Windows 98 PC (or, as in my case, the Windows 98 side of a dual boot machine) to Windows Millennium (Windows ME). I have ordered my Windows ME CD from Microsoft. The charge was $59 USA and no shipping costs. I assume the cost from the stores in mid-September when it is released will be similar and by pre-ordering I will not have to drive to the store...... I will update my PCs to Windows ME even though I rarely use Windows 98. Windows 2000 with SP1 continues to be my primary home-use operating system.

  • Web pages I used the most this month -- or, enjoyed the most:

    • Minnesota Vikings football. They have all of year 2000 games on the Web. It saves me trying to keep up with things by moving from game-to-game on TV. In fact, I very much enjoy listening to the radio on the Web. I have updated both my PC's speakers and my earphones I use on the PC.

    • Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper. I continue, each day, to browse this fine Web page. The Raleigh News Observer Web page is OK, but the Minneapolis paper fits my interests since that is the area of the country I am originally from. I hope you have found a Web newspaper that is of interest to you.

    • PGA Golf. I have been following the major golf tournaments on the Web pages for a couple of years. The pages are far superior to what they were a couple of years ago. If you are a golfer and interested in the major tournaments I highly recommend referring to the PGA's Web page for tournament scores and other information.

    • Entertainment Weekly's Web page for movie reviews continues to be my favorite.
    • Let me know what Web pages YOU used the most this past month. Thanks.

  • Power APC battery backup for my PC continues to work well and in my case has been well worth the $130 investment to implement it. I keep my main PC powered on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the APC battery backup is a contributor to my peace-of-mind about doing this. I recommend you, also, keep your primary home use PC "up and available" all the time for easy access to your family members. It works good, in my case!

  • I have an external modem on my PC as the primary modem for dial access to the Internet (America Online or AT&Tnet). I like an external modem and would do that again on my next PC. What I do is use the internal modem that came with the PC as a backup. One thing I like about the external modem is I can easily see the status of "things" by the modem's lights. I know this is an antiquated concept -- but, I like it!

  • Scanner use: Well... I use ours a lot. I have a normal (only $130 3 years ago) ScanMaker E3 Plus. Nothing magic -- but, it continues to work well. The scanner bed is legal paper size and sometimes I wish it was larger -- but, I am guess something larger is more money to purchase. The scanner works wonderful for color picture scanning (of pictures taken outside of the digital camera approach) or other information that fit on the scan bed.

    In some cases I am able to do multiple scans of a too-large-at-one-time piece of information. I, then, put the multiple scans together with PaintShop Pro if the scanned information is a "picture-like" image.

    Also, sometimes I want to scan text. I normally scan the document first as a "picture" since that is easy and if the purpose of the scanning is simply to pass the information onto someone so that they can read it: fine. A scanned "picture" of the text is easy to create.

    If I want the scanned information into text, I use Caere Omnipage Wizard to do the optical scanning. The cost of the Caere application is reasonable (around $40 if I remember correctly) and it works well. It is necessary to adjust the scanner (using the Omnipage Wizard) for the darkness/lightness of the scanned document. However, once you have the feel for the operation of Ominipage Wizard it is quite usable. If you are interested in an example I try to explain via an HTM, click on: Example of Using Caere Omnipage Wizard

  • Comments regarding eMail etiquette: This month in the Raleigh newspaper was a nice article on eMail etiquette. Let me know if you did not see such an article in your newspaper and are interested. Some points about eMail that I emphasise:

    • Use in the Subject line something meaningful -- especially if the eMail is of special value.
    • Do not expect to (always) or (ever) get an answer to an eMail. If you want an acknowledgment, ask for it. If you ask and you do NOT get an acknowledgement, use the phone or snail-mail (normal mail) to get in touch with the person or group you are trying to contact.
    • If you ask for an acknowledgment, do NOT expect a detailed response. eMail should be viewed as a one-way matter that sometimes (often, with people we care about or have common interests with!) is bi-directional. If you want eMail to be bi-directional: Make sure you send eMail you would like to receive!
    • If you are asked for an acknowlegment, respond. Even briefly. Very briefly, if you choose to. In fact, I tend to briefly respond to any eMail that is from someone I want to regularly be in contact with. Just a short note acknowledging the eMail is fine.
    • If you attach a file to an eMail: Be aware that downloading that file takes time and resource at the other end. If you are home user, you do not "care" about the server..... but, be aware that the server (America Online in my case) has limitations on the size of the file you send.
    • If you attach a file to an eMail: Mention the file and the file's contents in the eMail.
    • If you tend to attach files often: Consider placing the files on a Web page rather than attaching the files. This lets people "see" the files if they want to see them. Building a Web page and placing the files on a Web site is NOT a complicated matter and someone can assist you in getting started with this.

      Good luck with your eMailing!

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

An Example of Using the HTML "usemap" Feature

Have you ever been viewing a Web page and as you move the mouse around the Web page you are shown a "pop up" that indicates if you click on that portion of the Web page you will be presented some information?

This month, I had occasion to investigate this approach for a set of pictures I wanted to display. I will use the technique in upcoming home computer-oriented HTM files. Let me know if you are interested in this topic and use it in any of your home computer efforts. (Reminder: If you are not at all using HTM or home computer-oriented Web page definitions -- but, you can see reasons for getting started: Go to the lab download portion of the SCScompA Web page and take a look at Lab 10).

If you are interested in seeing a small example of the "usemap" feature, click on: Example of Using HTM usemap Feature


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 1000. 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!

  • Freecell Deal Number: 1006.
    Number of times I had to re-start to complete in lost-count moves: 3

    Deal 598 continues to be the most difficult one we found in deals 1-1006.

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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