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Vol. 14 No.4..................................... Serving the PC Community .....................................July-August 1998

CONTENTS




Another change for the PenCC

by Bob Wallace

As you should note from our new masthead at the top of this page, we've changed names for yet another time. For those new to the San Francisco Peninsula Computer Club, or SFPCC as we'll be known as in the future, we began in 1984 as Kay+Fun.

What brings on this change? A domain name on the Internet's World Wide Web, where sense dictates that wbetter where the "Peninsula" is we're attached to. Adding "San Francisco" to the name we've been using for some time will help place us for those outside the San Francisco Bay area.

Now that we're attached as a specific identity on the World Wide Web, how does access to our site get accomplished? By supplying "www.sfpcc.org" in your browser program after making your connect to the Internet Service Provider, or ISP. Our new home page is tied to Slip.Net's system, and can be accessed at any time during the day or night.

Graphics designer Lee Hill is responsible for making up the masthead we're now using, which is virtually the same as the club's identity on the Web, with the addition of the word "Newsletter" for this bi-monthly publication. Lee's work has been put together so as to allow for use by both Larry Welling and myself, regardless of the publishing program being used by either of us. For the record, this issue is being done within WordPerfect v6.1 running under Windows 95.


Other changes

One major change elsewhere has taken place since the last issue of our Newsletter, that being the Windows 98 release by Microsoft, of Redmond, Washington. Despite problems between Microsoft and the Department of Justice (DOJ) and a score of state Attorneys General, Windows 98 debuted on the announced date of June 25, with Bill Gates hosting an event at Fort Mason in San Francisco on that date.

Microsoft's latest Operating System software may be out on the streets, but finding anything in newspapers or on the Internet regarding sales of Windows 98 since June 25 is virtually an impossibility! Checks of San Francisco papers on Sunday, June 28, and Thursday and Friday of last week found very little about Windows 98 in news or advertising. Same with the Wall Street Journal of last Thursday, July 2. Microsoft is noted in the market recap from Wednesday, but nowhere else in terms of news story or ads for Windows 98.

Checking for "Win98 sales" on the Internet last Saturday came up with one article that might be worth printing out and reading, but that story had been written on the very day Win98 debuted, making it worhtless in terms of finding any mention of how many copies of Windows 98 might have been sold since the launch on June 25.

This marks a major contrast with the release of Windows 95 in August of 1995, when all sorts of events were lined up by Microsoft and resellers, and news stories filled the papers on almost a daily basis both before and after that debut date. Nearly the only similarity between the two came with at least two retailers opening their doors at midnight for Win98 - Staples and CompUSA.

One sales associate at Staples in Boston reported sales as being "fairly steady, but nothing like Windows 95." Also noted was the fact that most purchasers were home buyers, not business types.

Where is Microsoft likely to find the larger number of sales for their latest operating system? Back to the regular source for such, that being the Original Equipment Makers, or OEMs, who late last week were telling their customers to sit tight and not upgrade, given some number of unresolved problems with Windows 98 and their computers.

At least one computer user in the GT Power Network also experienced difficulty, not with the release version of Win98, but with the last beta cycle prior to the official release of Micro- soft's latest OS. Installing the beta on his computer in Australia found his Linux partition over-written by the Windows 98 installation program, without his being asked for permission to do so! Needless to say, any plans he may have had to upgrade to the release version of Win98 were sent to the bit bucket when he learned what had happened.


Microsoft's latest for '98

On the first Sunday following the debut of Win98, your editor expected some number of news stories on how many sales might have been completed by week's end, and some number of ads by retailers for the latest in both OS and add-on software packages from Microsoft. Such was not the case on June 28 in the Sunday S.F. Examiner's news sections.

Only one retailer had anything that might be considered a significant ad for Microsoft (or Microsoft-related) software, with the following noted in that advertisement:

MS Windows 98, $89.90

MS Plus 98, $29.99

MS Money 98, $39.99

MS Golf 98, $39.99

MS Baseball 98, $39.99

Of these, three of them, Money, Golf and Baseball, included a rebate offer ($20 for each of these, making the final selling price $19.99 after a mail-in rebate), while Windows and Plus did not.

Where will Win98 end up? It would appear that significantly fewer users will be choosing to upgrade to this version, despite their willingness to do so with the Win95 release. OEMs will be selling new computers with Win98 already installed on their latest hardware, although any computer user taking the time to make a check of what's "under the hood" will find more Microsoft programs inside that avoid the necessity for locating sources for alternative programs from other providers.

While Netscape and other soft- ware providers will no doubt survive over the short haul, my sense of it is that Microsoft has intentions of being the only software provider in the long run for computer users. If this is where Microsoft is headed, if this is what the DOJ anti-trust division people are thinking, we'll see more news stories of Microsoft being hounded by government lawyers. As a philosophical matter, your editor is opposed to government intervention to work out what the marketplace ought to be able to resolve on its own. In this one instance, the likelihood of that happening on its own seems reasonably remote at the moment, given the near lack of competing systems in stores, and the average computer first- time purchaser likely totally unaware that another operating system is available for whatever computer they choose to purchase, or that what's already inside on the hard drive can be changed, albeit with the likely loss of Windows functionality if such a change is made without investigating what might happen with software not compatible with programs that absolutely require Windows as the operating system in order to function, if they even start.

In fact, other operating systems are available to run computers with, including OS/2 Warp in versions 3.0 and 4.0, with Fixpak upgrades available for each. OS/2 Warp v3 is currently up to Fixpak 36 (Fixpak 37 has already been mentioned for the future), and OS/2 Warp v4 is up to Fixpak 7, according to recent messages in one of several OS/2 conferences on the BBS.

Linux is yet another alternative to Windows X.x (3.x, 95/98), and is readily available via some of the local BBS systems still up and running via the telephone lines. This OS is home-grown in the sense that the author resides here in the Bay area, the OS has a group of advisors checking all ideas for fixes or new features, with each upgrade made available to those already running this operating system on their computer.

Others beyond even this are also available for basic operations on one's computer. Norton DOS has been around for some time, as had been DR-DOS, with lots of what DR-DOS had come up with in new releases of some years ago making its way into the next version of MS-DOS.

Another quite good DOS-based OS is named 4DOS, with lots of features in it that MS-DOS might have incorporated into a DOS version 7 or later, had Microsoft not chosen to leave DOS behind with the move up to Windows 95.

Are there features in Win98 that might give you reason for going in that direction? The answer to this question will rest on what you do with your computer, or which software you run on your computer and the OS it needs on your computer in order to allow it to run. One of the big complaints I have with almost any Windows-related software is that it demands that Windows be up and running before it will start loading. Tie to this line of thinking the thought that too many Windows-related programs also require that the MS Internet Explorer (MS IE) also be installed on your system because their program demands that MS IE be available for its use to connect with the Internet is pushing too many of my hot buttons. While Microsoft's Windows might define the standard for a Windows-based OS, that standard strikes me as leaving something to be desired. Add to it the fact that Microsoft now suggests that its Windows 98 operating system will start your programs up to one and one-half seconds quicker in the new version of Windows 98 (this is a major increase in speed!?), and that the computer is far less likely to crash as often as it had under Windows 95 (in most situations, it shouldn't crash, period!) does not strike me as being a major selling point for any computer's operating system!



Do I, or Don't

By Judy Oliphant

How many times has this happened to you? You're sitting at the airport, bags all packed, you've planned this vacation for weeks and it's here.

You're flying off to some tropical romantic spot, or you're flying for business and dreaming about having some time off alone on a beach in Hawaii. Leave all cares aside, the hetic days are behind you, the sounds of screaming kids, fax machines, dog barking, husbands yelling "Where's my socks?" "Where you left them, dear."

Wife is saying we don't spend enough time together, so I've planned a vacation. Then you look across the row of seats in the lounge at the airport and you spot a notebook. A note- book computer, that is. Someone's catching up on his E-mail or finishing up some budget report before he too flies the friendly skies to Columbus, Ohio, July 21st at 7:00 A.M. In the morning, anything looks good.

As I will be soon flying the friendly skies to Columbus, Ohio, for this year's GT Power Get Together. For the past 6 months I have been the co-host of this years event. More on this later. [In the Final Bytes section of this newsletter. -Ed.]

And you just wish that the owner of that notebook computer would hand it over to you and say, "It's YOURS. I can't do a thing with it. I'm giving it to you. I've lost my password to the Peninsula Computer Club's BBS. What's the number again? If you can get past the IQ test, it's yours." You've dreamed that this day would come.

Do you really need a notebook, or do you think you do? That's the question. Will it cause much inflicted pain by the husband or the wife in your household if you have one? After all, this is their vacation as well. Your notebook computer must be travel ready as you are. It must be a presentation platform. If you're traveling on business this is a good thing to have. It also must be a productivity work- horse and communication maestro. And size and weight should be considered. The perfect midrange notebook computer balances all these factors.

You're not about to spend 5 grand on a machine that is going to be knocked about like a socker ball, and you will think upgrade the minute you pull it from the box and hook it up. You might as well get what you want now while you have it on your mind what you really want. Here are a few good Notebooks to look at before you spend that 5 grand. Ramblin' Pentium,Micron's TransPort VLX, comes with a 166 MHz Pentium CPU, 16 megs of RAM, a swappable CD-ROM drive, and a solid 1.6 GB hard drive, all for the nice price of $2,249. This Notebook is roadworthy for sure. In every other respect the TransPort's touchpad is a bit touchy. For better control, you can add on Logitech's Mouseman.

Talk, Talk, Talk with the money that you have saved you can add easily a 56.6 modem. This costs less then $200.00. This is from Simple Technology and this doesn't need a special connector. Simple Tech can be reached at: 1-800-367-7730.



Schedule

Every effort is made to insure that meetings announced are presented on the evening as noted in this section of the newsletter. Circumstances beyond our control will occasionally intervene in the best laid plans of any group, including ours. Therefore, on those evenings for which the presentor is unable to provide the advertised presentation, we will fall back to Open Forum, a session in which questions and answers to computer-related problems will be the order of the evening.



July 9: Web TV

August 13: Potluck Dinner

As is the situation each year with this evening, meal choices are divided among the group by last name. This year's division is as follows:

A-H: Salad

I-S: Entree

T-Z: Dessert

Based on past August meetings, this is usually the lightest month in terms of turnout, usually with a dozen or fifteen people making this potluck dinner. Plan your menu selection accordingly with this number in mind. Enjoy the evening, and bon appetit!



Final Bytes

by Bob Wallace

As noted earlier in Judy Oliphant's article in this issue of the newsletter, this year's GT Power BBS Network annual Get Together will be held in Columbus, Ohio, over the weekend of July 23-26, with a list of current and former GT Power BBS Sysops already in hand that suggests this may be the largest such gathering in several years.

As a member of this bulletin board network for more than eight years, I can attest to the fact most of the Sysops in this specific BBS Network were in the eastern half of the country, with better turnouts for these get togethers coming when held in the eastern portion of the country. Columbus this summer will be no exception.

As Judy noted in her article, she leaves on July 21 for this year's annual bash, which for her will also include a side trip to Cleveland for a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a first-time meeting with John Fisher, one of numerous Network people Judy has been exchanging messages with but never met previously. One of the reasons for these annual weekends - to meet the folks with whom you exchange e-mail via the GT Power Network.

Under most circumstances, your editor for this issue of the newsletter would also be going, but surgery on my wife's feet at the same time as this year's get together is scheduled will preclude my attending. I'll be there in spirit, and surely via messages bound to be going back and forth over that late July weekend.

This issue of our bi-monthly newsletter may be a day later than would normally be the case. While we can not ascribe this to a vehicle conspiracy, it's a most unusual coincidence that one vehicle is in the repair shop already since last Wednesday evening, and the other will be on its way first thing Monday morning. The VW Cabriolet went into overheat mode on the way home from work last week, and the Dodge mini-van chose to get cantankerous on Friday night just ahead of a holiday weekend. Your editor has been walking only as need be, which means this issue is somewhat delayed in getting to Kinko's for copying, then on to the post office for delivery after affixing mailing labels and postage, a chore being finished up early on Monday morning, rather than the more usual late Saturday or early Sunday completion of another newsletter issue, with copies to be mailed taken to the Airport Mail Facility at San Francisco International Airport no later than first thing Monday morning on my way to work in San Francisco. Given the circumstances over this past weekend, it's likely to be late on Monday before this issue is dropped off at the post office for delivery, making it likely that it will be Wednesday before you see this issue.

Add to woes with the vehicles the fact that your editor will be on his way to Boston early on Tuesday morning of the current week, catching up with Lois in that East Coast city where her AIFD group is having its annual Symposium this year. We'll be spending the rest of the week in and around the Boston area, in what Bostonians refer to as the cradle of liberty in this country. In addition to the more historic parts of that area, we also plan on visiting the computer museum just a short distance from the Boston tea party ship in the harbor, and Old Ironsides in the historic Charlestown Navy Yard. We'll be back at the end of the week.

As has been the habit for each issue of the newsletter done here, quick mention that this is being done on a 486-133 clone computer running Windows 95 and edited within WordPerfect v6.1 for Windows. Printing is done with an H-P Deskjet 693C device, and copied/collated for us by Kinko's in San Mateo.


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