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Vol. 19  No. 2 Supporting PC Platforms Newsletter:. Mar.- Apr. 2003


SFPCC on the move - again!

Windows XP for Beginners

Final bytes



SFPCC on the move - again!
By Bob Wallace

The San Francisco Peninsula Computer Club is on the move again. Beginning with our March meeting, we´ll gather at the home of your editor in San Mateo. Scheduled guest speaker for this month is Hank Skawinski of Datawise-PC in San Jose.

Over the past few months we have had delays to our monthly program getting started in part to allow residents of the Burlingame Retirement Inn to finish that night´s movie or other program on the big television set out of courtesy to them as our host for the evening. Several recent events have occasioned this change of meeting location, among them the change of management that now looks upon this computer club as a group with no direct ties to the residents of the Retirement Inn, and so long as their residents have no interest in participating in our meetings, their new entertainment director is taking the position that their residents will have to participate as part of our meeting or we may be asked to leave.

In recent weeks we have been advised that residents who do choose to stick around for that evening´s meeting will be allowed to ask questions of the presenter for that night, irrespective of whether the question relates to that evening´s topic. Sorry, folks, but no one but members of this computer club will set our agenda for us. Therefore, it´s time to move on to some other location.

Our March meeting has been scheduled for the editor´s house located in San Mateo Village, which is the area in south-east San Mateo bounded by the Bayshore Freeway, Hillsdale Blvd., Pacific Avenue and the creek boundary between San Mateo and Belmont. It´s quite easy to get here from either the Bayshore Freeway or El Camino Real.

Getting there -- Bayshore Freeway

For anyone driving south along the Bayshore Freeway, exit at the Hillsdale Blvd. off-ramp, taking the San Mateo lane to the right. At the second traffic light, turn left on to Saratoga Drive. The next traffic light is Hillsdale Blvd., which you´ll want to cross, staying on Saratoga Drive and going past the Chevron and Coast gasoline stations. At the first intersection past those gas stations, turn left on Poinsettia Drive and follow it to the end where it turns the corner and becomes Branson Drive. Follow Branson to its intersection with East 40th Avenue.

Driving northward along the Bayshore Freeway, take the Hillsdale exit and turn left at the traffic light. Go across the overpass to the second traffic light, turning left on to Saratoga Drive and going past the Chevron and Coast gasoline stations. Turn left at Poinsettia Drive and follow it to the end where it turns and becomes Branson Drive. (If you miss Poinsettia, the stop sign is Santa Clara Drive. Turn left there and go to the "T" intersection, which is Branson Drive. Turn right on Branson Drive.) Follow Branson to East 40th.

Getting there -- El Camino Real

For those who prefer El Camino Real to the Bayshore Freeway, go south along ECR to Hillsdale Blvd., turning left on to Hillsdale. Follow Hillsdale toward the Freeway to the second traffic light. At the second traffic light, turn right onto Saratoga Drive for a short block to Poinsettia Drive, turn left and go to the far end where it turns and becomes Branson Drive. (If you miss Poinsettia Drive, the stop sign just ahead is Santa Clara. Turn left and go to the "T" and turn right on Branson.) Follow Branson to East 40th.

Northward drivers can turn right off El Camino Real at 42nd Avenue, then an immediate left on Pacific Avenue. Go along Pacific to the third right turn, which is East 40th Avenue. Follow East 40th until it reaches a "T" at Branson Drive. The address you´ll be looking for is 4003 Branson Drive. Parking is usually not a problem at this intersection. Worst case scenario? You may have to walk half a block to get to our front door.

Meeting time will be the same as it usually is: 7:00 for coffee and cookies, or whatever your editor´s wife chooses at the local store that afternoon. Coffee is freshly brewed French Roast. Our meeting will start promptly at 7:30, whether your editor is watching a hockey game at that time or not! And one last time: do not go to Burlingame.

Future meetings may  be at a different location. Notice of location will be posted on the SFPCC´s web site,, as early as possible for each month´s meeting.


Windows XP for Beginners
By Shelley O'Hara and Que Publishing

Book excerpt: Absolute Beginner's Guide to Microsoft Windows XP 

The excerpt below is a sample chapter from Absolute Beginner's Guide to Microsoft Windows XP from best- selling author Shelley O'Hara and Que Publishing.  This chapter covers starting programs in Windows XP. 

Chances are that if you are reading this document and as a member of PC User Group you are pretty familiar with running applications in the Windows environment, but think back to when you were first starting on a PC and how long it took you to realize that the "Alt" key in correlation with another key allowed you to accomplish what took multiple clicks with a mouse.  You certainly know someone who has a hard  enough time finding the power button, let alone identifying an application and navigating through its menus.  These "absolute beginners" can find all of the info that they need in these friendly, hands-on books.

*Note: Absolute Beginner's Guides by nature are graphically rich texts, including diagrams to guide the reader through each step of the process.  Additionally, call-outs such, as tips, notes, and warnings, appear in the margins of the text.  For the purposes of this article, these images and elements have been removed.  To view the tips and graphics, click on "Sample Chapters" at:

Starting Programs

In this chapter
Starting a Program from the Start Menu
Starting a Program from a Shortcut Icon
Switching Between Programs
Trying Fancier Methods for Starting
Working in a Program
Exiting a Program

Starting a Program from the Start Menu

Most of your time on the computer will be spent working in some type of program - a word processing program to type letters, a spreadsheet program to create budgets, a database to keep track of contacts, and so on. So one of the most important skills is learning how to start a program.

Because different people prefer different ways of working, Windows XP provides many options for starting programs. What's the best way? The way you like. Pick the one that is easiest for you.

When you install a new Windows program, that program's installation procedure sets up a program icon (and sometimes a program folder if the program includes several components. For example, a scanning program may include a program for executing the scan as well as a program for working with and saving the scanned document). These are listed within the Start menu.

The Start menu provides two methods for starting a program. If you recently used a program, you can select it from the left pane of the Start menu. If the program is not listed, you can display all programs and then select the program from the longer menu. This section covers both of these methods.

Starting a Recent Program

Follow these steps to start a recently used program:
1. Click the Start button. The left pane displays the last several programs you used 
2. Click the program. That program is started, and you see the program window.

Listing All Programs

Follow these steps to view and select from a list of all programs:
1. Click Start and then click All Programs. You see a list of all the program icons and program folders 
2. If necessary, click the program folder. Any items with an arrow next to them are program folders rather than icons. When you click the program folder, you see the program icons within that folder. For instance, if you click Accessories, you see the Accessory programs included with Windows XP. Follow this step until you see the icon for the program you want to start.
3. Click the program icon to start the program. The program opens in its own window, and a taskbar button for the program appears in the taskbar. 

Starting a Program from a Shortcut Icon

In addition to the Start menu, you can also start programs from shortcut icons. Some programs automatically create shortcut icons, placing them on the desktop.

To start a program from a shortcut icon, double-click the shortcut icon on the desktop. The program starts and is displayed in its own window. A taskbar button appears for the program.

Switching Between Programs

You often work with more than one type of program at the same time. Windows XP enables you to quickly switch from one program to another. For example, you might want to review sales figures in a worksheet while at the same time creating a sales report in a word processing program. Switching between programs enables you not only to view data from several sources but also to share data among programs.

As mentioned, when you start a program, a button for that program is displayed in the taskbar. To switch to another program, simply click the button for that program. That program becomes the active program. 

Trying Fancier Methods for Starting

So far this chapter has covered the most common ways to start a program. As you become more proficient, you might experiment with other ways of starting as explained in the following scenarios:

You can start a program from the actual program file (not the same as a shortcut icon although you do the same thing: double-click the icon to start the program). When you install a program, the installation program copies the program file(s) to your hard drive. These programs are most often stored in the Program Files folder. You can open this folder and double-click the program icon to start the program.

You can start a program using the Run command on the Start menu. This command is often used to run installation programs or DOS programs.

You can add a program to the Startup group. Windows XP automatically starts any programs in this special system folder each time you start Windows.

You can assign a shortcut key to a program and press this key combination to start the program.
Working in a Program

When the program is started, you see the program window. A great thing about Windows XP is that all program windows share similar features. Learning to use one program helps you master key skills for almost all other programs. For example, most programs include a menu bar that works the same in all programs. This section covers some basic skills for working in programs.

Selecting Commands

The top line of the program window is called the title bar and includes the name of the document (or a generic name if the document has not been saved) and the program name.

Below the title bar, you see the menu bar. You use this to select commands. For instance, open the File menu and select the Save command to save a document. To use a menu, follow these steps:
1. Click the menu name. The menu drops down and displays a list of commands. .
2. Click the command. Depending on the command you select, one of the following happens:

  The command is executed. For instance, if you select File, Exit the program is closed.

  You see a submenu. Any commands followed by an arrow display a submenu. Click the command in this menu to execute the selected command.

  You see a dialog box prompting you for additional information about how to execute the command. For example, if you select File, Print you see the Print dialog box. You can select options for printing such as the printer to use and the number of copies to print. See the upcoming section "Selecting Dialog Box Options."
You'll find that not only do the menus work the same in most programs, but also many programs include the same commands. For example, you can commonly find a File, Save command for saving documents. The Edit menu usually has commands for cutting text (Cut), copying text (Copy), and pasting cut or copied text (Paste). The Help menu provides access to online help; you can use the commands in this menu to look up help topics for the program.

Using the Keyboard to Select Commands

If you are a fast typist, you might prefer to keep your hands on the keyboard and use the keys to open and select a menu command. You can use the keyboard shortcuts, or you can select menu commands with the keyboard. Follow these steps to use the keyboard for opening menus:
1. Press the Alt key. Notice that the program's menus now have an underlined letter. This is the letter you press to open the menu and select the command. For instance, press Alt and then look at File. To open this menu, press the F key.
2. Press the key letter for the menu. You see a drop-down list of commands. Notice again that each command has one key letter underlined.
3. Press the key letter for the command.

Selecting Dialog Box Options

As mentioned, when you select some commands, a dialog box appears prompting you for additional information. Like menus, dialog boxes work the same across most Windows programs. (This also includes commands in Windows itself.)

Dialog boxes vary from command to command and from program to program. But they do include like features that you select in the same way:

  Tabs - If the dialog box has many options, they may be divided into tabs or pages. Click the tab you want to view from the page of options. For example, if you select View, Options in WordPad, you see the Options dialog box with several. Click the tab you want.

  Check boxes - Some options can be turned on or off, and these are controlled with check. If a box is checked, the option is on. If the box is unchecked, the option is off. You can click within the box to toggle between on and off. With check boxes, you can select as many options in a group as you want.

  Option buttons - When you can select just one option in a group of options, you see radio or option buttons rather than check boxes. The button that is darkened is the one that is selected. You can select another option by clicking its option button.

  List boxes - For some options, you can select from a list. Sometimes the list is displayed, and you can click the item in the list that you want to select. You can also scroll through the list to view other options.

  Drop-down list boxes - To conserve space, some list boxes are condensed and only the current option is displayed. You can display and select from other options by clicking the down arrow next to the option and then clicking the new option you want to select. For instance, you can click Color in the Font dialog box and then select from a palette of colors.

  Text boxes - For some items, you can enter text. For instance, you can enter the name of a file when you save a document. To enter something in a text box, click in the box and select the current entry. Then type your new entry.

  Spin boxes - For values (numbers), programs commonly use a spin box. In this type of box, you can type the value or use the arrows to increase or decrease the value.

  Command buttons - Most dialog boxes include a confirm and cancel button. The confirm button is usually OK, but it may vary. For instance, when printing a document, you click the Print button to carry out the command. To cancel the options and command, click the Cancel button.

Using Right-Click Shortcut Menus

Because each person prefers a different style for performing certain tasks, Windows programs provide many ways to perform these common tasks. For instance, I like to use the keyboard because I am a fast typist and don't like to take my hands away from the keyboard to use the mouse. Beginners often use the menu commands because they are easier to figure out than toolbar buttons. Long-time computer users often use keyboard shortcuts because originally (wayyyyy  back) programs were not menu-driven.

So yet another method for selecting commands is using the shortcut menu. To display this menu, right-click on the area you want to modify. For instance, right-click on some text to display a text shortcut menu in a word processing program. Right-click on a picture to display picture commands. You can even use the right-click within Windows: right-click the desktop to display desktop commands; right-click the taskbar to display taskbar commands.

The commands you see vary depending on what you right-click. To select a command from a shortcut menu, click its name. To close the shortcut menu without making a selection, press Esc or click with the left mouse button outside of the menu area.
Using the Toolbar

In addition to using the menus and keyboard shortcuts, you can also use toolbar buttons to select commands. Most Windows programs include toolbar(s), which are displayed right under the menu bar. The buttons vary depending on the program, but most of them are similar

The following list gives you some insight on how to work with toolbars:

  Toolbar buttons are shortcuts to commands. You can click the button instead of selecting the command. For instance, click the Save button to save a document (same as selecting File, Save).

  If you aren't sure what a toolbar does, hover the mouse pointer over the edge of the toolbar. A ScreenTip (the button name) should appear.

  Some programs have more than one toolbar. Usually the standard toolbar includes buttons for common commands (Save, Open, New, and so on). The program may also include a toolbar with formatting options (usually called the Formatting toolbar or the Format bar). This toolbar includes buttons that let you quickly make formatting changes such as making text bold, changing the font, and so on.

If you see a down arrow next to a command, you can click this arrow to display a drop-down list of choices. Then click the option you want to select. For instance, you can click the down arrow next to the Font button to display a list of available fonts. From the list, click the one you want to use.

If you don't use the toolbar and want more room for the document to be displayed, turn off the toolbar. You can also select to display more than one toolbar in some programs such as Word for Windows. Look in the View menu for a Toolbar or Toolbars command. Any toolbars that are checked are displayed. The command is a toggle: select the command to uncheck and hide the toolbar. To display the toolbar, select it again so that there is a check next to it.

Exiting a Program

When you finish working in a program, close it to free system memory. (Your system memory is the working area of the computer where data and programs are stored temporarily while you are working within the program and on a document.) Too many open programs can tax your system's memory and slow the computer's processes. You can use one of several methods to close a program:
1. Click File and then click the Exit command. The program closes.
2. Click the Close button for the program window.
3. Press Alt+F4.  The program is closed.

The Absolute Minimum

This chapter explains not only how to start programs but also how to work with common program features such as menu bars and toolbars. In summary, keep these points in mind:

You can start a program using the Start menu or a shortcut icon.

The menu bar enables you to select commands. Click the menu name to display the menu and then click the command you want. You may be prompted to select additional options for the command in a dialog box. Make your selections and click the command button (usually OK).

Other methods for selecting commands include keyboard shortcuts, shortcut menus, and toolbars.

When you are finished working in a program, save your work and then exit the program. You can exit using the File, Exit command or by clicking the program window's Close button.

Copyright &co 2003 by Que Publishing. Author, Shelley O'Hara.  Reproduced with permission. Article reproduction coordinated by Steve Bass, Pasadena IBM Users Group. Excerpted from: Absolute Beginners Guide to Microsoft Windows XP, Shelley O'Hara, ISBN: 0-7897-2856-7, US $18.95. For More Information or to Order Absolute Beginner's Guide to Microsoft Windows XP or any other Que books visit


 Final bytes
By Bob Wallace

Within the very near future we will have to discuss the future of our club. Over the past few months we have had a grand total of four or five at monthly meetings, a number which will likely result in fewer outside presentations being available to us as a club, and the likelihood that potential members will not be joining our club as a result of a lack of outside presentations, despite the degree of help they might otherwise find as a member of our club. Give this subject some thought in the coming weeks and months. At the very least, some of us may choose to join others of the SFPCC group already attending the Stanford-Palo Alto user group.

This issue of the newsletter may be the last issue printed on the "old" HP 693C deskjet printer. We have purchased a ne HP Officejet d145 and await only the installation of a local area network to tie both computers together with this new printer. That LAN installation may be coming sometime later this month, depending on time being available.

Genealogy continues to be an interest for your editor, thus a trip up the hill late in Feburary to visit the San Mateo County Genealogical Society´s library at 25 Tower Road. Their monthly meetings come on the second Wednesday of each month in Belmont. Membership may  be coming with that organization shortly, despite their interest in primarily local genealogy research more than national or international in scope. Despite that focus, it was surprising to find that a fair number of books on both Canada and Scotland were available during our visit in February.


Despite our best efforts, scheduled presenters may not appear due to any number of reasons and circumstances.


March 13: Hank Skawinski
 On computers

April 10: Meeting site to be advised

Future meeting topics and meeting location will be posted regularly on the club´s web site:


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