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Vol. 18  No. 6   Supporting PC Platforms Newsletter:..Sep - Oct 2002

 CONTENTS

Computers: Headed where?

History of SFPCC

Final bytes

Schedule

 

Computers: Headed where?
By Bob Wallace

One of the radio programs usually caught on a daily  basis, Monday through Friday at 3:50 p.m., is the Larry Magid segment on local  station KCBS, the Bay area´s all-news station 24 hours daily.

Just this past week Magid was heard talking – again – about where Micro-soft wants to take computing in the next few years – as one´s all-around entertainment center. This along with all the other things we tend to do with these devices.

Needless to say, there are at least two ways of looking at this direction, only one of the two being good for Micro-soft, not necessarily good for computer users in general, in my humble opinion. 

First is the notion that Microsoft will continue to dominate our computing lives with such a direction, meaning that we´ll endlessly find ourselves in the position of upgrading computers to ever faster machines, if for no other reason than being able to watch televised programs on our PC. 

Second is the thought that lots of folks with a mindset similar to that of your editor will find some other way of making whatever computer we´re using at that juncture run under someone else´s – anyone else´s – operating system, thereby shorting out the Microsoft direction. Hello, Linux?

There is no rationale conceivable by me at this moment that would suggest any good reason for wanting to watch Monday Night Football (now with Al Michaels and John Madden) on a 20-inch screen that would serve only to remind of what television used to look like when it first started out following World War II, with the notable exception of maybe not much "snow" on the screen.

Further, there is no good reason why one might choose to watch a video presentation about Union Pacific Railroad´s Big Boy steam engines on a monitor that would make those huge engines look like a model train. Any steam engine weighing in at 500 tons ought to look like 500 tons!  For that matter, the latest GE or EMD Diesel engines ought to fill not one´s computer monitor, but that television screen!

Nor would it be of interest to me to watch some of the classic movies on a screen as small as a computer monitor´s.  Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon come to mind for old movies in black and white, for instance. Sam Spade will look far closer to reality and human scale on the television screen than he will on a computer monitor.

Movies originally shot in color will continue to look far better, in my opinion, on larger television sets that will be far easier on my eyes than would be the relatively small screens now being used with computers, even those with screens larger than twenty inches. Whether it´s Gone With The Wind, West Side Story or the latest sci-fi thriller will make no difference. Play that movie on a big screen, Sam!


What´s this glitch?
By Bob Wallace

Only infrequently do we find ourselves calling on RCN´s tech support for a question about Lois´s computer. Most of the programs usually work without any need for restarting the computer, on the one hand, much less looking for that Major Reset button to break out of one or another program.

 This despite the occasional message about some General Fault being noted in a popup window, Windows will shut down the program and you´ll lose whatever it is/was you were just working on only a moment ago before that popup screen interrupted your line of thought.

Such was the case late last week shortly after arriving home from a day at work in San Francisco. Lois´s Windows 98 Second Edition was going through some midlife crisis of its own, apparently, not allowing her access to the ISP for either e-mail or broswing.

She had phoned RCN´s tech support prior to my getting home and had told the other end of the phone line that she could not get e-mail, but that the browser was working. Turns out that neither was able to get through to the cable modem, much less the ISP. She again called RCN while I took a look at getting e-mail or browser to work.

About that moment tech support was once again on the phone line, so crank in the speaker phone on our Siemens cordless telephone, then talk and check, then check some more. That check of browser program – Mozilla, in this instance – found Mozilla´s home page showing up, but only because that page was already available on Lois´s computer. Trying to get to two other sites  (weather.com, rvsearch.com) brought up the screen display telling us that neither site could be located.

By that point my head was already going in the direction of restarting the computer to clear out whatever garbage was sitting in there, keeping the system from getting to (or through) the network card and to the cable modem. That´s about the same time that RCN´s tech support suggested the same "fix."

For whatever reason, Windows had come up with some internal  (if not infernal)  conflict, effectively keeping the computer user from accessing the RCN web site. A detailed but not lengthy explanation to Lois suggested that the next time she comes up with a similar situation, e-mail or browser not getting much beyond the keyboard, that she first consider that some internal conflict has effectively shut down her system for all practical purposes, that she ought first to consider a restart of the computer, or shut down completely for a few minutes, then start again.

The one somewhat interesting thing to come out of the exchange with RCN´s tech support is that both our e-mail and browser programs are not supported by RCN. For the record, this includes MR/2 Internet Cruiser for Windows on Lois´s computer for e-mail (it´s MR/2 Internet Cruiser for OS/2 on mine), and Mozilla for the browser. For the OS, it´s only Mac and Windows.

While at it, I then asked if RCN was considering support for Linux, which brought back a no, and then asked about support for Lindows, if it gets beyond its current development stage (it will, just hang in there long enough), which also elicited a no, although the techie said she was aware of Lindows, but only within the past week or ten days, and probably almost by accident.


History of SFPCC

In late 1982, a number of computer-interested people who lived in the mid-San Francisco Peninsula area looked for computer help. In 1982 or 1983, computer stores, schools and colleges had no classes available as they do today. As with educational school evolution, people interested in computers met together, schooling and educating themselves, known as Computer User Groups. So came about the beginning of the San Francisco Peninsula Computer Club, also known as SFPCC.

The first official meeting of SFPCC was held in March of 1984. This was long before Microsoft Windows was invented or DOS had become a personal computer standard. At the time, what most club members had in common was CP/M operating system, a standard at that time. The club´s original name was KAYFUN. "KAY" came from Kaypro CP/M computers, manufactured by a company who was also providing the U.S. government with computers and similar to another popular computer called Osborne. The FUD came from the point that members would attempt to have FUN making their CP/M computer more productive tool.

From 1986 to 1987 it was evident that IBM wanted to create an XT computer standard and join hands with the then little company called Microsoft, who was providing an operating system called DOS. KayFun Computer Club recognized it was time to change its focus with the times and computer industry. XT computers not only were cheaper, but there was a standard, so that every program would run on everyone´s personal computer (PC).

Although Kaypro also changed its focus, as did others, it too financially failed as off-shore clone computers became less and less expensive. So as the computer community interest had changed to DOS or today Windows, it was time to change the club´s name to San Francisco Peninsula Computer Club or SFPCC.

Over the years, SFPCC members focused on computers providing their life productivity. In addition, as club members share, each member knows where to get successful help. In the past and present, the typical club year consists of meetings that are 1/3 presentations from computer vendors who focus on selling their product. The next 1/3 of our meetings come from either club members or persons who demonstrate software or a computer product that has made his life more productive. The final 1/3 are open forum meetings in which club members and visitors exhibit or present problems or issues to which someone else in the room may have a solution. In the past, SFPCC has had presentations from companies as large as Intel, Microsoft, Logitech, US Robotics and as small as local computer store proprietors.

Since its beginning in March 1984, San Francisco Peninsula Computer Club (SFPCC) has met on the 2nd Thursday of the month at 7:30 PM, in the city of San Carlos, a couple of blocks north of Holly Street (exit off of Freeway 101) and one block west of El Camino Real at 222 Laurel Street in a Social Room. Over the years, the club membership has varied from 50 to 100 members, with about 20 to 25 people coming to a typical meeting. From time to time, SFPCC also has Saturday workshops where hands-on Windows applications are used.

In that telecommunications is so much a part of computers, on March 15, 1985 SFPCC (KayFun) had their first Bulletin Board System (BBS) on-line for members and local computer community users. In 1995, with the growth of the Internet, the SFPCC Executive Board met at a local Internet Service Provider. Months later SFPCC had their first Internet Web site, initially by the graciousness of a club member and then later through sponsorship of Slip.Net, a San Francisco Internet Service Provider.

As we come upon 1999, SFPCC is commencing its 15th year of existence. Fifteen years, though young in some club circles, is a long time as it relates to the computer industry, and as a computer club. Actually, SFPCC is one of the oldest computer clubs in the country, still meeting at the same location and time. As a club, all past and present members are proud of the leadership provided to attain this stable longevity. Yet most of all, everyone is proud of SFPCC helping to provide each visitor and member ideas for making computers more useful and productive in their daily lives through attending SFPCC meetings.

As a club, the SFPCC mission statement continues to be:

A computer club that serves the local computer community users

A computer club that changes with the computer industry as needed

A computer club that never becomes so large that a visitor is missed being recognized

A computer club where each member shares experiences so that the club provides dependable assistance and direction for focusing on computers to make our lives more productive

A computer club where we have fun doing all the above

[This article comes from the SFPCC web site (www.sfpcc.org). It has no name attached to it, therefore no attribution is given here.  -Ed.]



Final bytes
By Bob Wallace

Before getting too far along here withwrapping up this issue, note that an e-mail message readearly on Sunday morning indicates that Microsoft isreleasing its first Service Pack for Windows XP. Thismessage also noted that several individual fixesreleased earlier for one problem or another wereincluded within this Service Pack.

Some portion of this newsletter nearly got started while visiting Northstar at North Lake Tahoe over the weekend of August 31 and September 1. The editor´s wife accepted an invitation to assist at a friend´s daughter´s wedding, meaning that your editor would be driving up on Saturday to catch up with his wife, and get one more floral designer to the site to assist with preparations for a huge wedding: 11 each bridesmaids and ushers, in addition to some 250 guests.

Getting to Northstar was only part of the plan for that Saturday, August 31, as further driving was in the works to get an application and check to the Nevada State Railroad Museum to become a member of yet another group. Their URL is: 
www.nsrm-friends.org. One other good reason for making that additional drive was to ride behind an 1888 steam engine over the museum´s 13-acre site. In fact, this made the second trip to that museum in three weeks. We had just been up there earlier in the month with Lois´s nephew to visit both the Carson City and Virginia City locales.

Several computer-related segments air Monday through Friday on local radio station KCBS, 740 on AM, those being the Chip Talk segment heard frequently about 4:35 a.m. with Dave Ross, and Larry Magid´s segment at 3:50 p.m. Dave Ross has a related web site at www.chiptalk.com, while Larry´s former larrysworld.com has been renamed as www.pcanswer.com. Each site has links to topics covered in recent weeks, for anyone not familiar with Ross or Magid.



Schedule

The following information is usually available on the SFPCC web site. That was the situation over the past weekend as this issue of the newsletter was being prepared.

September 12: General meeting

October 10: TBA

November 14: TBA

December 12: TBA

 

 

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