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|Vol. 20 No. 1||Supporting PC Platforms||Newsletter:.January-February 2004 .|
Volume 20! Who would have thought twenty years ago that this group would have such longevity? We seem to have longevity, but there are some faces we´ve not seen for sometime, some faces we´ve not seen for quite some time. We trust each and every one of you is well, surfed through the holiday period with minimal distress and look forward to yet another very good year, both in general and with your computer(s).
One problem we´ve been attempting to work through here is a cantankerous Toshiba laptop with a CD that no longer seems to be "with us." Not sure yet what the problem is, was or continues to be, but a very curious set of circumstances makes this a bit strange. Your editor´s wife decided one day several months ago to pick off a "fix" from Microsoft´s web site while ye olde editor was at work in San Francisco. She explained tome what she´d done during the day – this came during the middle of an e-mail session, for the record – and everything appeared to be working "normally."
Within a day or two, Lois noticed that the CD drive was not working. Not that would be all that significant by itself, but one of the women at Jazzercize had the same problem with her own computer. While this could be played off as being nothing more than a mere coincidence, it´s strange that each had done the same thing – downloaded a "fix" from Microsoft´s web site before finding a problem with her CD drive.
In our case, we contacted Toshiba´s help line and explained the problem, getting a local telephone number to contact that was supposed to be able to assist in resolving our laptop problem. Unfortunately, the local phone number turned out to be a voice-mail answering system that was not set, apparently, to receive phone calls from people with computer problems. The "menu" of choices on their answering machine had no choice for someone with a computer problem wanting assistance!
What´s the upshot of this itsy-bitsy but irritating problem? We´ve contacted Datawise in San Jose to see about having their tech support (Hank or Brian) check and replace the CD, if necessary. Now to wait for an e-mail response to that query, then find a convenient day to get down there.
Linux is going...
Other sodden (soggy?) thoughts on a rainy day in January of a new year? Thanks for asking! Some of you may recall that the editor has been running Red Hat Linux on his laptop computer for much of the year just gone by. Red Hat advised all of its Linux users that the end of 2003 would see the end of support for their versions 7, 8 and 9 users. Pony up a "few" bucks and get their "Enterprise" version of Linux, or choose an alternative version that may become the next "official release" version of Red Hat Linux. Reading the e-mail message which detailed these options put your editor in the mood for looking around at least one other option, as you may have noted in the November-December newsletter – Red Hat or Mandrake?
Further research since our trip to Southern California´s Inland Empire over the Christmas holiday finds that Red Hat is looking for a substantial sum to upgrade: $179 for an individual to get the Enterprise version. Sorry, that´s bit more than this writer wants to put out for a version of Linux, so it´s time to take a serious look at the Mandrake offer –$54 for their seven-CD Linux version 9.2. Were that next option to be chosen, including printed documentation and some on-line support for a month, only $157. Still less expense than sticking with Red Hat Linux.
With these choices made, it´s time to fire up the Red Hat Linux browser and connect with Mandrake´s web site (http://www.mandrakesoft.com/) and order those seven CDS, do some head work on what needs to be saved from the current Red Hat Linux setup (there´s bound to be a couple things), save it, then install Mandrake´s Linux 9.2 and start tinkering with it.
Somewhere down the road...
Before jumping off on other subjects, the start of this year may be as good a time as any to get this SFPCC group thinking about the future. Your editor is getting down to the time when he´ll be retiring from a day job in San Francisco (and elsewhere around the Bay Area on occasion, depending on the moods or whims of dispatchers). At some point someone else will find themselves in the position of editing the bi-monthly newsletter on the weekend prior to the club´s regular monthly meeting, adding keystrokes to the keyboard of their computer to get the next issue ready to go to members. Given a 20-yearhistory of computer club newsletters, we can´t stop now!
Happy New Year to everyone!
Over the years those of us who use Windows as our operating system have gotten accustomed to Windows adding on tools to make Windows run better. Some will say in a beat that Windows is full of DLLs, spaghetti code and could not make anything simple.
I am running Windows 98 (desktop) on a Pentium III 500 with 128 megs of RAM and Microsoft ME on my laptop and I am perfectly happy and I have no major beefs with Windows and I am not looking for problems. Don´t count and I don´t care how many DLLs there are and I like you I dump my temporary Internet files, I scan my hard drive for viruses, and I have a router. And I don´t accept e-mail from anyone that I do not know and am careful where I surf. I have made some funny errors in my surfing only because I have made a fat-finger mistake in the URL; end result was I saw pictures that I didn´t expect to see. My face turned beet red as I closed out the browser not peeking twice. Despite this I´m always looking for good photo editors. I have what I think is a good digital camera. Many of you have seen it at the meetings. It´s a no-brainer, not a lot of fancy tricks to it. See the object, shoot the object. KISS – keep it simple Sweetie. Why make it difficult when you can make it simple, is my motto!
For those of you who have not made it out to our monthly meetings recently and I hope that you will return soon, Digital Camera is a Fuji Fine Pix 2800 with a 6x zoom lens. It is great. Right size for me takes clear sharp pictures. How do you get the red eye out of your photos, how to resize them, and once you have done all of this how do you show them off. I use one photo editor, Microsoft´s Picture It. This follows the KISS rule, it is an easy photo editor.
I recently bought some photo paper for my Dad for Christmas, Avery photo paper, and a copy of Picture It was included in the package. Spread the joy to your loved ones. Picture It has a handy tool to remove the red eye from the photos. Just click on remove, place your mouse over the eyes and click. Snap, the red eye is removed. KISS!
Another photo editor is from Jasc Software, Paint Shop Pro. Your writer is a want-to-know-this-better person with Paint Shop Pro. I have Paint Shop Pro 7 and I have a "Dummies" guide to it and I am on Page Two of the guide. I have not taken the time to tinker with it enough to really comment on it. From what I have seen and read Paint Shop Pro stands out as one of the best Photo Editors. I read over Christmas at my folks on the sofa in the living room around the fireplace Paint Shop Pro Photo Organizer version 4 is the only organizer that has a variety of select tools, although the removal of red eye is unremarkable you can embed text into your photos. And has a quick fix tool for color and brightness as well as a manual tool.
You´ve now resized the photos, removed the red eye, embed text into your photos, sharpened the color where do you show them off. There are several on-line photo albums that you can create. One of that I have used is Oh Photo and Yahoo has a feature that you can create your own on-line photo album. These are all fun to do and easy to create and once the album is created you can send out the URL to your family and friends.
For a special Christmas gift for my folks who are in their 80s I scanned and resized and brightened some photos of my Dad and Mom when they were first married and my sister and I were younger as children around a family Christmas Tree and my Mom´s first home that she and Dad designed in Southern California. I put all of these cherished photos onto a Read-write CD and made them a photo slideshow using ON DVD software. That Dad could play on his DVD Christmas Day after we had our meal and were enjoying some spiked egg nog a very special Thanks goes out to Lee Hill for telling me and showing me how to use that program. This made a great gift and a great way to show off some family photos and preserve them for the family. Lee, thank you.
First things first. To Judy Oliphant, thank you for putting together another piece for this first newsletter of another New Year. We would remind you that we have placed pictures on the Internet at Print Room (http://www.printroom.com/), but a quick check of their site just a moment ago (Friday, January 2) was unable to locate the album of our visit to Scotland only three years ago. Must be a time thing, or we just haven´t had the time to visit recently enough to keep our photos available on their site. Hmm, yet another chore for another day. How delightful!
Second, as you may recall from several newsletters ago, our club web site had disappeared into some immense black hole, no longer available on the Internet. Over the past couple of weeks Ernest Hintz has been doing some work on getting various pages and files updated to get our web site back up and visible to the Internet world. A check on Saturday, January 3, finds the site up and running, with two ways of getting to it. Open your browser and type in the URL window: sfpcc.org and hit Enter/Return. For the time being that will get you to Hints.com where you can find a link on the left side of the page to Sfpcc.org. The other method means typing in sfpcc.org/sfpcc and Enter/Return to get directly to the club´s web pages. Ernest is working as time is available to get us back to the point of using only the Sfpcc.org to get directly to the site. Stay tuned for the latest on this, including a message via the club´s e-mail message system. Our thanks to Ernest for his time and support of the SFPCC!
Glancing through the newspaper just last week found a story that is going to impact negatively Microsoft. Russia has joined about a dozen other nations now in support of the "Open Source" software movement, thereby saving that nation a substantial sum of money over the next few years as they move away from Microsoft software and tie in with alternative providers. This story came from the San Jose Mercury-News last week, just so you know.
Genealogy had high spots and low spots again this past year. We visited the Niagara Peninsula in Canada to see if we might find information we´d not been able to locate via the Internet, and visited a cemetery and library in Saginaw, Michigan for similar purposes. While we were able to resolve some issues with the Wallace side dating back to the early 1800s in Canada, and some number of issues dating to the early 1900s in Michigan, there are still some areas that need further work. Given what we did learn last year puts a bit more focus on what it is we have yet to learn of previous generations. At times it´s amazing how much information is available in one place or another, if only one can find the time to dig it out. Certainly would help if more of it were available either on the Internet or by way of CD from someone.
Speaking of the Internet, several things. Most of us spend much more time on the Internet now than we used to, so every so often your editor takes a few minutes (more like hours, sometimes!) to check on some of the sites we used to visit routinely back in the days of the BBS. Some of you may remember those days just a handful of years ago?
Your editor had occasion to go to Borders.com the other day to find two CDS, one are placement of a vinyl record (yeah, we still have a cabinet full of those!), this one with far too many scratches on it now to listen to with any regularity. So, time to update to a CD version of two Beethoven piano sonatas with a three-disc set of five Beethoven piano sonatas. Among the choices were far more than one might expect to find, even in the record stores locally, but one was finally selected and added to the "shopping cart" at Amazon.com (Borders "links" users directly to Amazon these days.)
Second CD sought after is another to add to our collection of Pipes and Drums around the house, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and their "Highland Cathedral" album, one we´ve been trying to find in the local stores without success. We might have been able to locate it in a shop in Redlands during our visit to Southern California during Christmas, but time ran out on us for that trip. Fortunately, Amazon.com had both CDS and will be shipping them within the next week. This may be one of the strangest combinations of CD purchases they´ll see at Amazon this year: Beethoven, and Pipes and Drums.
As of 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, no reply yet from Judy on meeting topics for January or February. Last we heard from her on Friday afternoon, she was stuck in the DMV line in Daly City trying to get license plates for her car. For all we know she´s still waiting inline!
January 8: To be advised Meeting location: Judy´s place at 1400 El Camino Real, South San Francisco.
February 12: To be advised Meeting location: Bob´s place at 4003 Branson Drive, San Mateo.
Meetings start at 7:30 p.m. Coffee is usually available by 7:15, give or take a few seconds.