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 Vol. 18  No. 3  Supporting PC Platforms March-April 2002 Newsletter:. 2002

CONTENTS

New meeting space for SFPCC

StarOffice -- a major secret?

Dragon worth talking?

FREE Stuff on the Web

Summer fun!

Final bytes

Schedule

 

 
New meeting space for SFPCC
By Bob Wallace 

Going out your front door for the March monthly meeting will find you driving off in a slightly different direction to get to the meeting location, we trust. This reminder that we’re no longer going to San Carlos effective with the March meeting date. Larry Welling should have a sign at the front door in San Carlos to serve as a reminder for those who may forget. 

One quick aside before going into the details of how to get to our new location. Glance at your mailing label for this issue. Most of you will find the expiration date for your annual dues on the top line of your mailing label. This tells you when your membership lapses with the S.F. Peninsula Computer Club by month and year. Memberships expiring this month, for instance, would read: 
"Membership expires: 03/02." 

For those few who will find "Complimentary newsletter" printed at the top of the mailing label, your membership lapsed some time ago. Your complimentary issue is being sent to keep you advised of the change of meeting location. To receive future newsletters via snail mail, submit your annual dues via check to the Membership Chairman at the address noted on the back page. Thanks! 
On with the directions to our new meeting location in Burlingame. From north of the Broadway off-ramp in Burlingame, take Broadway to the right at that ramp. You’ll want the second traffic light on Broadway to make your left turn at (the first traffic light at Rollins Road allows no left turns). Turn left on Carolan and follow it (and the railroad tracks) to the second stop sign, just beyond the high school. One block beyond the stop sign is Burlingame Avenue. Turn left there and go one block to Myrtle Road to find the Retirement Inn of Burlingame located at 250 Myrtle Road. 

Coming from the south, turn off at the Peninsula Avenue off-ramp, go up and over the Bayshore Freeway and along Peninsula Avenue until you reach Anita Road, just before you get to the railroad tracks. Turn right on Anita and go to the "T" opposite Washington Park. That puts you at Anita and Burlingame. Turn left at that intersection and go one block to find the Retirement Inn of Burlingame on your left. 

Parking is available under the building, across Burlingame Avenue adjacent to the tennis courts, or you may find a spot on the street. Parking under the Retirement Inn of Burlingame will most likely be routinely available, but be advised that a few parking spaces under the building are reserved for Retirement Inn staff, and are marked appropriately. There may be a few restricted parking spaces in the lot across Burlingame Avenue. Any such spaces should also be marked with appropriate information to alert you to specific restrictions. On-street parking may be somewhat limited, depending on the specific time of evening you arrive looking for a spot. 

CalTrain may  be an alternate method of getting to the meetings, with the Burlingame station being just one block from the Retirement Inn of Burlingame location. Going toward San Francisco, Train 83 is scheduled at Burlingame at 6:22 p.m., Train 87 at 7:00 p.m. Going toward San Jose, Train 86 is due at the Burlingame station at 6:51 p.m. You can look for other CalTrain information by visiting their web site at: 

http://www.caltrain.com/caltrain/index.html 

Links to a handful of choices are available at that URL Be aware that CalTrain service later in the evening is somewhat sparse, meaning you may have to time your departure from the meeting based on CalTrain’s schedule. 

Several changes to make you aware of regarding our use of the lounge at the Retirement Inn of Burlingame since our February newsletter. Judy Oliphant and Lee Hill met with Lily Rutherford on Thursday, February 28 to work out a few more details for the club’s use of their facilities. Among them, that we will be able to gain entrance to the lounge without the need for going to the front door and ringing the bell. One of the early arrivals each month will be asked to assist others arriving for the monthly meeting by watching the door next to the patio. 

Another change since the February newsletter is that we will have a wheeled cart available for our coffee urns, making coffee available in the lounge during the meeting, much as it has been available in the kitchen area at San Carlos over the past years. Snacks will still be brought in as well, and should be adjacent to the coffee cart location within the room. 

As has been the practice at San Carlos, at least one of us will make every effort to be at the Retirement Inn of Burlingame by about 7:00 p.m. to get the room ready for each meeting. At the conclusion of each evening’s meeting, anyone with a couple of minutes to spare for cleaning up the space will help in getting everyone out and on their way home in a timely manner, and we thank you for your assistance. 
 



StarOffice -- a major secret?
By Bob Wallace 

Every so often your editor goes out in search of a new program to install on his OS/2 Warp 4-based computer, a program that may make his computing time a bit more useful. One such program was located just several weeks ago on the Hobbes web site for OS/2 Warp users (http://hobbes.nmsu.edu). This addition to the programs available here had better be a very good one, given that it took just over 17 hours to download via the dial-up connect. One of the problems with finding archives that total 65 megabytes! 

In fact, knowing about this program came about by the occasional visit to one or another of the local bookstores to check on books for other programs. Finally, a visit to the Sun web site (www.sun.com/StarOffice) found a reasonably good demo for their current version available for Sun, Windows and Linux platforms (StarOffice 5.2), and information on that same site that details Beta 6, which is currently going through testing prior to being released to the general computer user. 

Given the details provided by Sun’s demo program, given the time spent getting the archive downloaded over that very long telephone connection of several weeks ago, time had to be made available for installing and looking over this quite large piece of software. As part of the install function, StarOffice asks about only a couple of issues, one of these being your e-mail setup if you choose to use StarOffice as your default mail program, and whether to set up StarOffice as the default browser on your computer. This after the usual questions about which hard drive to install to (the C: partition, of course), and whether to make the directory, since it didn’t exist prior to installing the program (default:  C:\office51). 

Once the basics are out of the way, StarOffice goes through the unpack routines until all the subdirectories have been made, and all the files have been placed into their appropriate locations. Adjust the config.sys file, if necessary (it usually is), make the icon for your desktop, then tell you to reboot the computer so that any changes that may have taken place during the installation will be available to the program when you run it. 

With the installation routines finished, the first step here is usually to go into the main program directory to check on the number of EXE files, the number of DLL files, how many subdirectories might have been created for this program, all the little details. In this instance, StarOffice’s install routine created 18 subdirectories beneath its own C:\Office51, placed one EXE file (34kb) in the main file area, and 56 DLL files (32Mb). A number of additional files are dispersed across the remaining subdirectories. This on an 8.4Mb hard drive partitioned into four sections under OS/2 Warp 4, with the C: formatted to accept the HPFS file system. 

Once you click on the icon to start the program, then click on the program icon, this computer starts its work of reading in the various files needed to make StarOffice work. Running on an older AMD K5-133 CPU means that it takes just about 90 seconds to get up to being ready for use. One very good reason for doing some serious thinking about upgrading to a newer CPU with lots more speed. Another reason is that it takes about 45-50 seconds to close down this program. 

First impressions can make or break a program, so looking at the screen when StarOffice gets ready to work finds a "Start" button on the lower left corner of this OS/2-based computer, one "button" never before seen on this monitor since installing Warp 4 several years ago. Clicking on that Start button brings up a display very much like what one would expect to find on a Windows-based computer, meaning that anyone familiar with Windows would probably feel right at home with this program, so long as you’re at ease around a "shell" program. 

Getting to the point of being ready to use StarOffice brings up a screen that displays eight icons within it: New Text Document, New Spreadsheet, New Presentation, New Drawing, New HTML Document, New Mail, Tasks and Events. Clicking twice on any of these will bring up the appropriate task. This is your StarOffice desktop, found in the top portion of your monitor. Just below that is the "tip" window that will start up each time you start the program until such time as you click on the box within that window to tell it not to start each time. A pull-down menu allows you to turn it off by clicking on the item within that pull-down menu. On the other hand, if you choose to use it again at some future time for whatever reason, you can go in and turn off that option, starting the tip window once again. To give you a full-screen view of what you’re doing, click on the "X" in the tip window to close it for now. 

As we did with the MS-Word text file for the January-February newsletter, a small text file was created within StarOffice, saved to the hard drive in default format, then checked for overall size by opening an OS/2 window, changing into the appropriate directory and typing the DIR command. In this case, tiny.sdw checked in with 10752 bytes, indicating that StarOffice is very much like MS-Word and WordPerfect, in that font, display and printer information is being stored inside each file in default mode, while saving it using the "Save As" function to make a Plain Text file will cut that filesize down significantly. In this instance, tiny.txt takes up 35 bytes of the 512-byte allocation made by OS/2 Warp 4. 

With only a week into this program since installing it  (this is being written on March 7), what its other capabilities might be is still to be noted. The e-mail portion of the program does work once it’s been set up correctly to send and receive messages, and using the program as one’s Internet browser also works quite well, saving time by not having to get out of one program, click on another to get the browser going. If your computer is fast enough, and you have the Internet available via dial-up or cable, you could easily have two windows going at the same time, doing whatever you like in one, having the Internet handy in the other. 
A likely next step may be to browse the computer section in one of the local book stores to locate a copy of Everything you need to know about Star-Office for OS/2, if one is still available at Barnes & Noble, Borders or Tower. 
Despite having a help file available within the program, and finding a "newsletter" that details several options available to the computer user, having a handy reference book of commands, functions and options sitting on the shelf is usually a good thing. 

Speaking of the newsletter attached to this program, ye auld editor will make a mental note to bring along the printed version to give some idea of what this program’s capabilities are. Whether the newsletter capability of StarOffice is sufficient to retire the WordPerfect editor remains to be seen. For the moment, my preference is for the newsletter form used by WordPerfect. 
 



Dragon worth talking?
By Judy Oliphant 

Talking to your computer isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you have never taken a typing class in your life, have problems typing or want to give your hands a break from the keyboard, then you might consider Dragon Natural Speaking 6. 

From personal experience, I have had several friends of mine use Dragon Natural Speaking and found that it does the job nicely for them, and my father uses Voice Express and finds it a very useful addition to his software library. 

Dragon and Voice Express joined forces back in December. After you have finished the required 5-minute training, you’re ready to start. You’ll have to train the program to recognize your voice with everyday words. This can also be rather funny if another family member happens to walk in on you while you are saying dog, cat, bird, shopping, etc., to the computer. It’s important for this to happen. Accuracy is very important throughout this process and throughout the program. If you sneeze or use a slang word, it may not understand what you are saying. 

If that is the case, it will put a ? by the word and give you a few suggestions. Example was when my Dad was using Voice Express and said "Oliphant," the computer put up a question mark and then showed him Elephant instead of typing in Oliphant. In this case, you have to go back and re-train it so it knows the word "Oliphant" and put that into the program. 

The new version of Dragon Natural will filter out hmms and ahs and eeks. You can add contact names from Lotus Notes and Outlook Express and create your own custom commands plus make on-the-fly corrections as in the case of the word Elephant, not Oliphant. 

To use Dragon or any other voice software you need at least 128 megs of Ram. You must be reminded this will not replace the keyboard and it is not as fast as typing on one, it is just another option you have. 



FREE Stuff on the Web
By Judy Oliphant. 

Don't you love it when you hear the word "FREE"?  I know I do. Think all the goodies are gone, there is no more FREE stuff out there on the web. Well, think again. There is a lot of FREE stuff out there. Some of it I bet you have not even given a second thought about, or knew it was out there. But it is! 

Okay, admit it, you looked at the title of this article and said, "Yeah, there is no FREE stuff, Judy, on the web and even if there was you'll get spam like you have not seen before in your e-mail if you even do take a peak at it.  Not even close to spam and your not putting your computer at risk of some dangerous virus it's FREE STUFF for the taking. 

If you think the only thing FREE on the net is all the fall of the dot.com on the net, think again. You can still get something for nothing and I am going to show you how and where. 

So get your pens and paper ready as here we go. 

One of the best search engines in my humble most option is Google I think in part to the name and I have great success with it.. Well, there are a lot of search engines out there:  Yahoo, Excite, Google, Dogpile and many more that I have not even named here. By now you all should know what a search engine is for. So we will skip   the what is a search engine part and go to the good stuff. 

Well, there is a new search engine out there called Ilor (www.ilor.com) build on top of the Google search engine so you get the same excellent service that you would if you used Google. Ilor gives you 4 options of view options to choose from. Place the cursor over one the links on the result page and you can add to a custom link, later you can view that custom list. Which is great if you are searching for several topics like I was the other night. I was looking or 
things on Seattle, but I also wanted things in down town Seattle to do, and easy walking distance and parking and public transportation. And I was able to track all the relevant results. You can also E-mail a friend the result of the search another good tool. You can open up the link into a new window and avoid having to hit the back button to return to your results. How nice is that folks? 

If you need a cure for the information overload blues, try Infogate (www.infogate.com) a terrific tool that will cut through the mass of news on the net to zero in on the stories that you are most interested in the most that you want to read. The 790Kb Infogate download produces a toolbar with a live feed of headlines which updates as 
long as you're connected. It will categorize by topics you choose. Click the personalized button and type in key words to get the breaking news from sources such as CNN and Reuters. You can set the tool bar to alert you when the latest SF Giants baseball score is in or the SF 49ers. when they are playing. To read full stories click on the headline while your on line and a window will pop up with links to that story. It also has a follow me feature will it will follow you to a cell phone or to a pager. 

Squelch those ads, you say. If only I could. This can be done with what is called Web washer (you can find this by going to:  find.pcworld.com/1996) 
this is a took for eliminating bandwidth hogging online ads. This 1.2Mb program blocks cookies and web bugs that let companies monitor your online wanderings. You can specify which cookies you want to block, allowing only those that ease your web movements. Most important without 
those annoying pop up jumbo size ads.. How many of you have gotten the one about the little camera. I wish I had a dollar for every time I have had that ad pop up or the net casino one. And I am not into Sex on line or finding my long lost high school friend. 

Leisure Time Digital made the Radio Star. Got a longing for some oldie but goodies all the 60's and 80's music, while your surfing the net? RadioTower ( www.radiotower.com) links to over 1300 online radio stations from 80 countries including CNN news to sports, to money manners simply down load real player or windows 
media player and the way you go. and browse the station by the name or the country or the music type. With free radio like this no wonder fee net music has not taken on as fast. 

You’re sitting at home and its's cold and wet outside and you want a break from doing your taxes  you wish you had a new Jigsaw puzzle to do but you have done them over and over again and tired of them.  Well   log on to (www.jigzone.com) here at the house we just finished one of California street with lights and a cool frame that I got as a Christmas present from Bites and Pieces. These are cool as well. Jigzone has over 800 photos and 32 puzzles shames to choose from. Pick a categories like art and architecture and travel and culture then choose the number of pieces and their shape such as 91 pieces shale like lizards of 247 triangular-shaped pieces. And a timer tracks how long it takes you to solve the puzzle.  If you get frustrated, click on solve button to see the pieces fall into place. If you rather do a good cross word puzzle, go to puzzlechoice.com 

This is just a list of the FREE Stuff that is out there on the net to choose from.. If any of you know of any others please write and tell us about some of your finds. We want to hear from you. 



Summer fun!
By Judy Oliphant 

Here it is the middle of March and my mind is already thinking about getting away for a few days.  That is right, I am talking Vacation!  This year, like most, this writer in the mist of hosting a 
Summer conference for Active Worlds, my third on-line community in Seattle Washington, the Emerald City. 

Going back to Seattle, Washington will bring back some fond memories for me as I was there in 1962 for the Worlds Fair with my Grandmother who has since passed away. And I went camping with my Family  back in 87 in Bellingham, Washington and learned how to stay up on water skies. A task that only a father could share. Picking black berries along the coast line of Oregon and Washington and then baking black berries cobblers with Mom in a 7-foot motor home in a state park in Bellingham, Washington. Oh, how fun is that it was a good family time. Sleeping on the dinning table that doubled as a bed with a sleeping bag and a dog that thought he was more person then dog that liked to snuggle inside of the sleeping bag with you until you kicked him out he found the drivers seat was an A-OK bed as well. The family dog even would pack his own dog dish & blanket and drag then off to the motor home  before we took off in the motor home he was not about to leave them behind. 

The family traveled all the way up to Vancouver & Victoria on this trip and the dog did great. Why won't he is a  part of my family. If any of you are wondering what kind of dog this was.. It was a 80-pound Male Standard German Schnauzer that had more sense then some people do you only pick the ripe pears, and strawberries and vanilla ice cream is no fun when others are enjoying  strawberry & cream. And sour dough french bread is a jewel of SF.  So going back to Seattle will be fun for me..It will bring back all of these memories and make more of them to share. And I will find lots of photo opportunities I am sure. 

So how have I planned this conference using the computer and the Internet? Very Easy! 

I have been doing all the work for the conference via the Internet, and used the search engines as my guide. I found the hotel site and sent off E-mail to the convention and visitors bureau, 
contacted the hotel that got the bid , and found a lot of information on what to see and do in Seattle, and requested more information. Has only had to 
pick up the phone once, folks, to actually talk to someone from any of the sightseeing vendors or the hotel because my dial up Internet provider took a dump on me and I had a new e-mail address to give to her.  That's the only time so far that I have had to do any voice calling to Seattle. 

As far as sightseeing goes, we will be taking an underground tour of Seattle, having lunch at Pikes Brewery, at Pikes Market Place, and some time at the Space Needle, ride the monorail 
and take a 4-hour cruise on Lake Union out to Blake Island to the Tillicum Village where a whole Chinook Salmon dinner will be prepared for us with live Native American Music and Dancing will be performed this evening. Friends as far as Holland, England will travel over again this year for this conference. 

Got any summer plans of your own that you would like to share with us please write we want to hear from you. 
 



Final bytes
By Bob Wallace 

Getting this newsletter out the door is being anticipated due to the arrival this past Thursday of five CD disks of new updates from IBM for their OS/2 Warp 4 software. Actually, two of the disks are directly related to the operating system and add-ons, three for adding various and sundry utilities to the hard drive. Nothing gets changed on this computer while the newsletter is being edited.  I guarantee it! 
Several reminders keep popping up in my head every so often. First, should you hear a noise coming from your desktop computer, you may want to investigate the cooling fan on the CPU chip inside your case. This one doesn’t pop up all that frequently, but when it does it typically catches the computer user by surprise, with the thought going on about what the noise might be, is it serious. No, in fact it’s reasonably easy to fix. Turn off the computer, pull the plug from the wall or at least turn off the on/off switch on your outlet strip. Remove the cover and locate the CPU and its fan. Replace the old CPU fan with a new one available from most computer stores, then replace the cover on your case and go back to work. No more than 15 or 20 minutes should be necessary for this fix, and almost anyone can easily do it. 

Another thing for you to consider, that being the battery in your motherboard that keeps your CMOS data going when the computer is shut down. That battery may have a shelf life of five years, but how long had it been in your computer before you purchased that system and took it home?  Find out which specific battery you need for your computer, go to the local supply store and fetch one, then swap out the old battery for the new one. Just be sure to make a copy of all your CMOS data before you change out the battery, as that’s the thing that keeps your data intact. You may have to re-enter all that information after changing the battery. 



Schedule

March 14: Genealogy update with Chris Havnar 

April 11: Hank Skawinski on almost everything related to computers.

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