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|Vol. 17 No.1||Supporting PC Platforms||Newsletter:..Jan.-Feb. 2001|
|CONTENTS|| Software still frustrates users
One might well think that turning over nearly two decades since the personal computer 'revolution' began that software authors would be able to build a piece of software that does what it's supposed to do, not what it chooses to do? Not so, apparently, as we learned over the Christmas weekend late in December, 2000.
Lois and I visited with her mother and brother in Winters over that
weekend, a part of which involved an attempt to install two different CD
disks onto the computer in that household, get the necessary files copied
to the hard drive, then start the program to gain access to the Internet.
In both instances, the Spiegel and Bluelight CDs installed as one would
expect them to, but then
Each CD had been mailed by the business named above, but both actually came from the same source, at least in a general sense. Each had been mailed to neighbors, with the notation on the outside of each mailer that it could be used by the addressee, but then could also be passed along to friends and neighbors to get them involved in the Internet. If this is the case, why so much frustration involved in getting it to work?
The only clue at this moment, some two weeks after the fact, is that we
might have used the name of the party to whom the CD had been mailed in
the first place, but then that would make a healthy problem to straighten
out later on. After installing each CD, one at a time, followed by
attempting to log on to the Internet by way of a local access number for
the Winters area code, each bounced back with "User unknown"
messages on at least
After seeing the results of the first attempt to log on, we
Long story short? Later in the evening after Lois and I had gone to our motel in Vacaville, her brother managed to work through the Prodigy CD and got on the Internet without any help. Well, perhaps no direct help, but he had seen enough with the first two CDs to get an inkling of what he might have to do in order to get through the setup routine with the Prodigy CD, then start the program and attempt to get tied to the Internet without any hand- holding from your editor.
Next morning, Christmas Day, he was quite happy to tell us he'd managed
to install the Prodigy CD, got it up and running, then gone through the
steps to get it started and on the phone line to get going with the
Internet. Given some of the discussion of the previous night about what an
e-mail 'address' might look like to set up his own under Prodigy so that
both of us can exchange messages with him via Internet e-mail. While he
Seeing other people get started with using the Internet brings
But this is getting away from the main point of the moment: Why is it so difficult for software writers to figure out how to make using their CD to get on the Internet in the first place so nearly impossible to use? Going back to the Spiegel and Bluelight CDs noted at the outset, each would dial the local access number which actually worked insofar as gaining access to the provider, but then stumbled around for a few seconds before coming back with a message that said the username was not recognized and the connect was dropped.
For as much effort as computer companies appear to put into their
marketing schemes to get people interested in the Internet in particular,
if not computing in general with all its differing
Last Thanksgiving's four-day weekend provided ample opportunity to
download and take a look at the newest version of Netscape's browser
software. Getting it sent over the cable modem makes it a
The major difference between this version and earlier is that you download a 'stub' execu- table program which then checks your computer to see what you have for a printer, for instance, then chooses the appropriate driver for it from somewhere deep within the Netscape server. In all, some 14 files were sent down the phone line for Lois's specific system, which may be typical. The Netscape stub is about 150K in total size, so it gets down the wire very quickly.
One significant difference in the way Netscape 6 sets up on your
computer should be noted. The version 4.x program installed into Program
Files / Netscape / Communicator / Program, while the new version 6 goes
into the Netscape 6 subdirectory below the Net- scape subdirectory. This
should serve anyone well if you later
Making this change is relatively simple. Left-click on the Net-
Jumping into the program once it's been installed brings up a
For whatever reason, once the new version 6 had been installed on
Lois's Windows 98 Second Edition-based computer, it came up in a
As with previous versions of Netscape's browser, one can go into
several setup options to configure this version to suit yourself. Anyone
getting mail via Netscape's program will probably have to configure
directly for that option. At the very least, if Netscape does find a
configuration for message services, you'll still be better off and further
ahead by checking that setup before going on the Internet, if for no other
reason than being sure to get your messages sent to your computer, and
What's different about the browser's new look? On the left side of your
'window' is a sidebar 'window' that will include various things, depending
on what you're doing at the moment. This window
Several things that we've become accustomed to aren't there in this
version. These include the Print Preview option included in the version
4.x program; a notice from several web sites visited over the past six
weeks that suggest Netscape version 6 does not
Perhaps the last item on my list of not-so-favorite things about
Will we go back to Netscape v4.x? Still toying with that
By Judy Oliphant
By now I am sure you have put away your Christmas decorations, recycled the Christmas Tree, taken down the Christmas lights from around the house, and can now settle back into an easy chair or your computer desk. Hopefully among those Christmas gifts was a calender you'll want to mark the dates for the User group meetings and other important dates. And your vacation dates are very important.
All of us each day use our computers for many things, from balancing our check books, to sending a hello to our friends, and exchanging information with one another. Some of us even get out there on the Internet and shop or look up information. The Internet is a marvelous tool.
Take looking up airline ticket prices and vacation spots. The
Making my summer plans now, I logged onto Microsoft's home page and clicked on travel. Up popped this friendly easy-to-use web page where I was instructed to put in where I was flying out of, where I wanted to go. And I scrolled down and found my airline of choice. Since the skies are friendly, I selected United Airlines, and I would be traveling alone.
For my information I put in SFO and going to Portland, Oregon. Date
that I would be leaving SFO, August 9th, returning to SFO August 14th, and
I would be traveling alone, of course. They had the best deal - $255.00
round trip. Just what I wanted, a round trip
But wait a second here before you start pulling out that luggage. What
if you have never been to Portland, Oregon and knew nothing about it:
where to stay, where to eat, what is there to do, and most of all, where
are the shops for shopping. That marvelous tool called the Internet again.
I soon found out more then I ever would want to know about Portland,
Oregon. Even found out that they have a huge Intel Plant in Beaverton,
This marvelous tool called the Internet is just that, a marvelous tool.
What would we do without it? With just a few clicks of the mouse, and with
little time I was able to locate the convention bureau in Portland,
Oregon, sent them email, told them what I
And, "I am searching on the Internet for hotels and rates, and things for us to do."
Don't be afraid to get out there, folks. Use this marvelous tool
A picture is worth ... ?
By Judy Oliphant
So you got a digital camera this Christmas and now you're
My father got into the digital age of digital cameras. Spare me please,
someone. First it was the computer age, and the
As in most households, we were preparing a lovely Christmas
feast. Dad was reading his digital camera books. Santa Claus has
great taste, by the way. Santa Claus gave Dad an Olympus 3.6
The picture came out perfect, but then came the questions: How do I resize it, and how do I get that vase out of the picture? With a wink of an eye I was able to show my Dad how to edit and resize that family photo and I still have my sanity, folks. What they say is sooo true - you can teach an old dog a new trick and they will even say Thanks.
To do this I used a program called Picture It by Microsoft. Very good program for editing pictures from your digital camera, or scanners. Purchased this program at one of the Cow Palace Computer shows some time ago. And found it is the best to show "newbies" how to do things.
With Picture It, you can edit your photos by dragging a square or a
circle around the image that you want to edit, then say copy to the paste
board, and then paste as a new photo. After several glasses of egg nog,
and a few glasses of wine with dinner, Dad was able to see clearly enough
he was even having fun with this program. I tell you, folks, it was the
Christmas Evening that I
Among the gifts that he was opening was some HP photo paper and some greeting cards. Stay tuned to see if I ever see the results of my efforts that night. I am still hoping I will not regret that I and my sister introduced the age of digital cameras to a man that can't find Windows Explorer and calls me instead. Wishing you all the Very Best in 2001.
Thanks to Judy Oliphant for providing two pieces for this issue of the
SFPCC Newsletter. Whichever program she used to write them with, she saved
them in DOS Text or "Plain" Text, whatever that program calls
it. The only problem with one of them came when I
For the benefit of your editor, please save submissions for the newsletters in DOS Text, Plain ASCII, whatever your editor program calls such methods of writing to the hard drive or floppy diskette, and also name it something that follows the old way of naming files. Doing so will most assuredly save time and effort at your editor's keyboard. Getting those submissions to your editor is quite easy, given that most of us have e-mail providers that allow attaching files to messages. Write your piece, save it in 'plain' text, then just attach that file to an e-mail message directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaking of RCN, a recent visit to their web site found a newly
With the demise of the club's former bulletin board system, a new home
for the computer system needs to be located, or perhaps it's time to send
this along to a computer recycler? Any free advice, anyone? One
method of contacting is via the club's e-mail address:
This past December found us on the road again to Southern
One good thing about going out of town is that we can check on
Our second stop in Southern California was in Avalon, on Catalina
Island, normally a 75-minute run across the channel from San Pedro. Fog on
our outbound trip was so bad that the boat was running late all day, and
getting later as the day went on. Our room at the Seaport Village Inn had
a phone with a plug at the back that probably would have accepted the same
line cord for
As you may note from the postage on this edition of the SFPCC Newsletter, postal rates went up on Sunday, January 7, just in time to catch us forking over an additional penny to get this issue on its way. Plan had been to get it on its way on Saturday, but night work for the new Moscone West convention facility in San Francisco Friday night well into Saturday put that plan out of commission.
Several changes here in recent months. Lois decided her com-puter
needed a new color printer, so off we went to Office Depot to purchase an
Epson Stylus Color 880 printer to replace the HP Deskjet 693C that had
been in use for several years. Switching the printers was no problem, as
the Epson comes with a CD that installs the software onto the hard drive,
including making it the default printer. If this news-letter shows up via
That HP Deskjet 693C was moved to the OS/2 Warp 4-based computer in use
by your editor. Putting that printer on in place of the Epson Apex 80 dot
matrix printer may have contributed to OS/2 Warp 4 taking its first crash
since being installed more than a year ago. This just had to happen on the
night before we were to leave for Southern California! Need-less to
say, the reason for that crash, whatever it might have been, was on my
January 11: Hank Skawinski
February 8: Chris Havnar on genealogy
As of Sunday, January 7, no guests or topics have been lined up for
March and beyond. Any ideas can be sent via e-mail to Judy Oliphant:
email@example.com, or to
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