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|Vol. 15 No. 4||Supporting PC Platforms||Newsletter:..Jul-Aug 1999|
|SFPCC's 'bridge' to the future
Several changes are already in the works by direction of our new chief officer, including an updated Mission statement for the SFPCC. The revised document has been modified by several members via Internet e-mail messages over the past ten days, the current draft being included within these pages. In addition, a statement by Gershenson on his elevation to the SFPCC's top post.
One other change needs to be noted for you, both here and further on in this issue, that being the editor of the next newsletter being changed from Larry Welling to Marsha Brandsdorfer. Any items and/or articles for the next issue of our bi-monthly newsletter should be directed to Marsha's attention. E-mail can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Messages to SFPCC's Executive Board can be addressed to email@example.com, which will get one message to all Exec Board members.
Internet e-mail messages would, by default, be in plain text, but any
file attachment intended for use in the bi-monthly newsletter should be
saved in DOS Text within your word processor before attaching that file to
your message, making it suitable for insertion into your editor's
publishing program, whichever is in use on the editor's computer. Next
step is to know whether the editor's e-mail provider allows for file
attach. Several providers do not include that feature. If you have any
question as to the editor having file-attach available, contact by e-mail
message or phone call to make that determination, or forward your file via
the postal service.
Towards the end of the [June] meeting some of us were bemoaning the fact that "office" packages such as Micro-soft Office 2000 or Corel WordPerfect Office 2000 have become such huge entities that they take 500 megabytes of hard drive space if you put in the entire program. One of our members noted that hard drives were getting less expensive all the time so that wasn't such a problem. Anoter indicated that people in the aircraft industry complained when planes got bigger, and if they had been listened to, we would not have the great planes we have today so we should just keep our mouths shut and not try to stop progress.
At first I thought that was a damn sensible idea. Then I got to thinking about it. What seems to be happening in the computer industry is the same thing that is happening in the fast food industry with the "meal deal" concept. While most folks might not purchase the additional food products, the "deal" makes it sound more attractive and moves more of the product for the company. I just upgraded to Corel WordPerfect Office 2000 and the blooming thing has so many wheels, bells and whistles that the official guide to it is about 850 pages long. What seems to be happening is that by putting an enormous amount of "things" into the pacakges, the companies can charge us a great deal of money to upgrade. For most of us, we will never use most of what is in them.
The primary focus of the producers of computer products seems to be the
business market rather than the computer user-enthusiast. While it is
quite true they make much more money per license from a corporate user, I
suspect it is the sales at CompUSA, Fry's and other outlets that support
much more of the computer industry then is generally realized. It seems to
me that we should be working to make the industry recognize this fact. It
is much harder to produce a program that takes a small amount of space
then one of these behemoths. Bob Wallace likes to remind us that he still
uses Perfect Writer, an old DOS program that is incredibly efficient and
uses very little disk space indeed. Sure, we need progress, and sure, we
should applaud new developments, but the progress and development should
be meaningful [to the end user]. Some like to say that it doesn't make any
difference what we think, Microsoft and others will do as they please
anyway. But if we don't say anything to companies to encourage them to
develop programs for the individual user, who have we to blame?
SFPCC Mission Statement
[Several versions of this statement have been exchanged between some of the Exec Board members via Internet e-mail message since its introduction at the most recent Exec Board meeting late in June. This is the latest version of the club's Mission statement as of July 3, 1999. -Ed.]
The San Francisco Peninsula Computer Club (SFPCC) is a private, non-profit institution supported by the annual dues of its members. All persons interested in any aspect of personal computing and its numerous applications programs, whether a beginner, intermediate or advanced user, will find that the SFPCC offers a lot to interest him or her.
The club's aim is to shed light on the wonders, excitement and value of computers in our everyday lives. Our members are constantly seeking new ideas and concepts to make our enjoyment of computers a richer and more rewarding experience.
At our monthly meetings we present programs on subjects specifically related to the use of one's computer, presented by one or another computer vendor, or by one of our SFPCC members. Occasionally, we have a "free forum" evening where attendees can discuss personal computer questions with the group, and usually get an immediate response that will help answer one or more questions, and frequently clear up a problem by offering solutions from one or more of those attending that evening. The latest computer products are noted as they become available to the general computer community. In addition to the regular meetings on the second Thursday of each month, occasional Saturday workshops are also scheduled on topics of interest to the SFPCC membership.
We publish a bi-monthly newsletter with reviews of programs tested by
SFPCC members, and announcements of meetings and events enjoyed by all
levels of computer enthusiasts. SFPCC has its own web page at
www.sfpcc.org, with e-mail to the Webmaster available there. In addition,
SFPCC also sponsors a computer bulletin board with numerous public domain
and shareware programs available in archived format at 650-571-9259. We
are located in San Carlos, California, and invite computer users of all
ages and level of expertise to come enjoy, share and contribute.
"Business @ the Speed of Thought: Using a Digital Nervous System"
by Bill Gates with
A Book Review
by Marsha Brandsdorfer
When I was very little, my kindergarten teacher called my mother into school and said, "Something is terribly wrong with your daughter. She laughs all the time and laughs at everything." With my new, fresh eyes on life, I just loved to giggle all the time because I thought everything was funny.
So, if I had thought things usual and humorous almost forty years ago, what would I have thought if I were born today, just shy of the new millennium, with computers and the internet running our lives?
Microsoft wizard Bill Gates has written a new book called "Business @ the Speed of Thought: Using a Digital Nervous System." The first words in his introduction are "Business is going to change more in the next ten years than it has in the last fifty." This statement could not have been more true had I been knocked in the head with a hammer.
Gates' entire book, written in clear, concise English (for the
non-computer layman) makes it clear our present and future world in
business and at home will be ruled not by the Evil Joker in
Gates explains that a "digital nervous system" is like that of the human biological nervous system. The body "triggers your reflexes so that you can react quickly to danger or need. It gives you the information you need as you ponder important issues and make choices." He explains that companies need to have a similar kind of nervous system: "the ability to run smoothly and efficiently, to respond quickly to emergencies and opportunities, to quickly get valuable information to the people in the company who need it, the ability to quickly make decisions and interact with customers."
As a legal secretary for over 14 years, I've definitely seen the emerging of computers and how they have changed the legal business and continue to do so. I started off with typewriters. I have gone through the Wang word processing stage, several other word processing programs including WordStar and Multimate; then WordPerfect 4.2 for DOS, and later WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS. Finally, WordPerfect 6.1 for Windows on a LAN networking system and now Word 97 for Windows on a LAN networking system.
I've been at law firms that have their own "Web page" and many of them that have access to the internet. At Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich and Rosati, we used to send "billing" through an Intranet system. We logged onto a certain designated web page, completed our billing information, "sent" it when we were done, and the law firm's central billing department would have access to this information.
However, at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich and Rosati and other law firms
I've worked for that used computers, I've experienced many times network
crashes, wherein the computer became
Problems with communicating since attorneys and staff have said
to me, "send me e-mail if you have something to
discuss." I hadn't always received a response, or even
known if I had
Gates' book is wonderfully written with lots of ideas, but he does not discuss the many problems, as I have only touched on a few above, showing that a digital world is not perfect, especially in business.
He talks about how the "all-digital workplace is usually called 'the paper- less office,' ... no more stacks of paper in which you can't find what you need.... Today we have all the pieces in place to make the vision a reality." He mentions how Microsoft has managed to reduce their paper flow. "Seventy percent of the resumes arrive elec-tronically via e-mail or the Web... our software automatically acknowledges every electronic submission." They have a "resume builder" on the web at www.microsoft.com/jobs.
I have used resume builders before on www.caljobs.ca.gov and
www.sun.com. They are easy to use, but they do take the
individualism out of resume writing, since you have to complete questions,
and there isn't always room to elaborate. Gates explains in his book
that after an applicant gets hired at Microsoft, the Human Resources
Department has the new hiree complete forms on-line on their Intranet
service. She/He can order office supplies on the Intranet, read the
employee handbook, visit the Microsoft Archives, Library and company
newsletter web sites to find out more about the company. I have
experienced this at one of the larger law firms I did temp work for.
They even had instructions and tips on how to use Word 97 on their
A paperless office for a law firm, as well as many other service
businesses, is not a realistic concept. Computers and word
processing software packages can definitely aid companies, but I
Gates does give lots of ideas and tips in his book to businesses on how
to use computers and the internet to better their business. He
explains, for instance, how e-mail is important because it is quick.
"The PC and the Internet give us another way to communicate.
They don't take anything away." I tend to agree with this
concept. In my personal life, e-mail has become quite a
For the future, Gates foresees that most households will have computers and it will be "as common in homes as telephones or TVs." He believes that one day the connections to using the
World Wide Web will have faster "high-speed connections." He feels "e-mail will become as common a method of communication among people in business and homes as the telephone or paper mail is today." He states that before long more and more information will arrive in digital form. Consumer bills will arrive electronically. Booking travel arrangements will become very commonplace over the Internet. Digital appliances will become commonplace.
He stresses how important it is for businesses to use the Internet. Businesses may not grow overnight by being on the Internet, but it is important. The law firm I presently work for has a new web site, and I am excited about this, for I do know how important it is to stay on track with everyone else. As Gates suggests, a more informative customer is a better customer. "Informed clients ask better questions. Conversations are more in depth and more to the point." By having articles on the web about certain issues of law that the law firm handles, will mean that future clients will understand better the firm's services. Being less in the dark will enable them to ask better questions and be more prepared. One of the biggest problems I've noticed is in clients not having access to documents and good records in aiding the firm to help them. If they read the articles and ask good questions via e-mail or on the phone, they will understand exactly which documents and information we need in order to help them better in their matters.
Gates says that an "interactive" web site helps to create more business activity from its visitors. In his book, he gives ideas on how to evaluate your new web site. For instance, is it easy to use and is the information well organized for the user?
Most interesting, Gates reminds us that "It's the kids growing up
with the new technology and taking it as a given who will show us the full
potential." He mentions how hardware and software
"Using speech to interact with the TV, PC, or other personal companions will be common within ten years. The technology will combine speech recognition and natural language understanding, so that the computer can determine your intent." In Arthur Clarke's novel, "3,001: The Final Odyssey," the novelist imagines his characters communicating by "thought machines." With this machine you can have your thoughts communicated to another without e-mail, without writing, without speaking.
Is Gates talking about science fiction or reality? Is Clarke's
concepts of advanced technology imagination or realization? I
remember, back in my childhood days, when it was considered a farce to
conceive of a world where man would land on the moon. But, the moon
was reached in 1969, and now scientists are striving for a manned mission
to the planet Mars as early as 2011. Despite imperfections, and even
the "thought machines" had imperfections in Clarke's novel, we
are still seeing a world of constant change. In his book,
Gates wants to inform his readers to take advantage of it, use it and be
aware of it. Very interesting and I do recommend reading his book
and considering these ideas. As advancements in technology continue
to progress, the future with all its overwhelming promises still continues
to give me the giggles.
Visit SFPCC on the Internet at: www.sfpcc.org
by Judy Oliphant
For over 15 years computer pros or the not yet ready for prime time home hobbyist/home users have relied on one Utility program And this is clearly Norton Utilities. But how do we define problem solving when there are so many of these fix all to end all utility programs out there. The market is strengthen to the limits with this stuff. If you go to any computer store out - let's pick on CompUSA in this area - you will find every sort of utility program out there that you could ever dream up there being.. So what makes Norton's any different than the others out there?
Well, they have been around the longest, over 15 years to be exact. And Symantec takes the guesswork out of problem solving for you.. Unless you're one that likes to take the bowels out of the computer with a single hand that swears that he's never had a hard drive crash. If this is not the case, then you are like many of us who have relied on Norton Utilities to solve computer problems. Symantec has taken the guesswork out of what's wrong with your computer. Symantec introduces the most powerful set of utilities to make this task much easier.
The key word here is "EASE." There are a lot of utilities out there that make this claim to fame but do they really do what they say they are going to do. This has to be seen. I have run two utility programs here. One being Mijenix Fixit Program, and now the Norton Utility program. And I have my preferences..
With the Norton Utilities includes advanced features to keep you on the internet. Solve PC problems quickly, save your work from crashes, rescue your PC from emergencies, fix internet connection problems, Maximize your PC performance. Again most of these do the same thing. So where does Norton Utilities come in 1st? They have been around the longest. You also get 150 hours of free internet access from Netcom, a six month subscription to Norton Web Services for $6.95 for easy online access to the latest hardware drivers and software updates.
Norton Utilities has won the PC Editor's Choice award now both in 1993 and 1997 and the most valuable product away for PC computing 1998.
If you're thinking that you should purchase a program like Norton Utilities, now is the time to do this with the special purchase offer of $29.95 for our PC user group.
[To purchase Norton Utilities 4.0 at a special User Group price of
$29.95, including all shipping, handling and taxes, call
1-800-441-7234 between June 1st and August 15th. You must tell the
operator you are referring to "promo code U1239."
Handy Dandy Fix-It All
By Judy Oliphant
How many of us wish that we could just point and click on an icon and have it do everything for us in one full motion? How many of you growing up watched "I Love Lucy" where she was the Vita Men Gal and she took many swallows of this syrup and it was supposed to cure all that is wrong with you, the end result was she acted like she was sleepy?
Classic "I Love Lucy," for sure. My favorite, though, was this, and the Candy Factory one, for sure. Well, in the PC computer world there are several Vita Men-type programs out there. It, too, will cure all that is wrong with you. We don't call them Vita Men; we call them Utilities in our PC World.
Bob Wallace, our Sysop for the club's Bulletin Board, turned me on to an article that he read recently in PC Magazine about a new utility program out there called "Fix-It 99," by Mijenix. As Bob told me about this program, I had to see for myself what it could do, so I with a Safeway select soda in hand and a ham sandwich to go along with this, logged onto Mijenix's web site, www.mijenix.com, to take a look at this program. I was impressed with all that this program could do. As Bob later on told me that he normally would not get so turned on by a single program but this one caught his attention. So I had to call their 1-800 number and see if I could not get a copy of this program for a review. Glad I did, and glad I could talk to Alex. This was a delight for sure. And I am very pleased with this program.
I now understand fully why Bob was so excited about this program. It is just what I have been looking for. It's easy to run, easy to install and does some great things.
Bob has made several visits to various software outlets around and about the San Mateo area to locate Fix-It 99 and without locating himself a copy. It seems that everyone else has read the same article that Bob did and the stores can't stock enough of this program. I have successfully gotten a copy. Is Bob happy? This is the question we will ask him after Kentucky, folks.
Mijenix's Fix-It 99 utility will do the following:
Scan for a virus
Now as to why we should maintain our PC. If everything worked as it should, you would never have to change a tire when it went flat, put oil in your car, or water, buy a new pair of Rebocks, buy postage stamps or get a moving ticket, or get audited by the IRS. PC computers like people get sick, they do crash, they also freeze up when you least want them to do this, for no apparent reason right when you have that important meeting to get to, or that deadline and you're working away to make that million dollar sale and all of a sudden it crashes on you.
Fix-It Utilities 99 is designed to detect and even eliminate many of these potential problems with your PC. It also tunes up your PC much like you do your car. You have a computer in your home or office and that has crashed and won't boot up, or if you suspect something has infected it, you can run the scan portion of this program.
Your system will use the Rescue Disk as its boot disk that you will make when you install Fix-It 99. We all should have a Rescue Disk, several copies of this in fact, hidden away in a safe place. If you don't have one, SHAME ON YOU!.
If you have not backed up your Hard Drive to a tape or floppies, SHAME ON YOU. Don't come crying to the club's meetings that your system lost your recipe for cheese cake for Larry; we don't want to know about this. It's your fault he didn't get it then!
If you are lucky enough to find yourself a copy of this program, I
think you will find that Fix-It 99 is just what your PC system needs. A
good program for any home or office. By the way, it's easy to install and
easy to run. A real no- brainier for all of us that aren't into taking
apart computers and replacing cables, and hard drives. Just make it work,
I say. I don't want to know about bi-directional cables and what IRQ's are
and what I have or don't have. I just want it to work, plain and simple.
If it crashes, I can fix it now with Fix-It 99.
Party Time for GT Power Sysops
by Judy Oliphant
Yea folks! It's that time again when the two GT Power Sysops take off for our annual party gathering of GT Power Sysops for this year. Bob and Lois Wallace and myself will be heading off for Louisville, Kentucky this year. For some sun, fun and relaxation, and hopefully will come back with a few stories to share with all of you.
Ever since I have been a part of the GT Power Network, we have our annual Get Together in one place or another. We have even hosted two of them here in the SF Bay Area. Our past President and current one have all joined us in on the activities. Our web master Lee Hill has also joined in on the activities. In fact, if the truth be known, our current President Myron was once about a time a caller to the Bay Window BBS and used to take great pleasure in chatting with the Sysop here when she just wanted to watch the Oscars on tv, and he would page me to see if he could get a response. I am not sure he tried this with the Peninsula BBS. How soon does he forget how to dial up the Bay Window he now just does email. Somewhere on his computer I bet there is still the dialing screen for both. How many of you want to bet with me? He knows the way to the Bay Window. It's 650-871-0359, if any of you want to try and dial it up.
Early this year I received some email from David Moore back in Louisville, Kentucky, who happens to be our host for this year's event. So, Judy, how do you run a Get Together, a GT Power one at that? It's in a batch file and let me tell you spell fun and it will run. With one mouse click away I started the planning of this year's event. Found lots of things to do in Louisville, Ken-tucky, all by asking the right questions on the internet. Even found a hotel site that would be the host hotel for us.
This year's event will be the last one for this century, so we're really going to be celebrating in grand style. Weekend activies include:
Friday, July 30th - The GT Power Sysops will be touring Maker's Mark Distillery, founded back in 1840 in Loretto. One of Kentucky's finest bourbon distillery. Sorry there is no sampling.
We will travel up to New Haven - Boston area of Kentucky and catch up with Bob & Lois Wallace that will be making their way down from Chicago by way of Indiana to join us at the Kentucky Railway Museum (KRM) for our afternoon lunch in the station yard and 90-minute train ride through the countryside of New Haven - Boston area.
The KRM has many historical train sets and memorabilia housed in a
replica of the original New Haven depot. New Haven, Kentucky seeks to
preserve that relationship recapture the gentle excitement of the local
passenger train when it was small town America's link with the world. The
Lebanon Branch was one of the first built by the old Louisville and
Nashville (L&N) as it worked south toward Tennessee in the 1850's. The
tracks reached Boston in November of 1856 and New Haven in July 1857. This
is not all, folks. The
The "Star of Louisville" sails up and down the Ohio River with a picture perfect evening is already programmed for us this evening. The weather will be warm during the day and little chill in the air for our dinner cruise.
Saturday afternoon will be another fun filled afternoon of discussions about various software, several demon-strations are planned this day, with the hopes that a representative from Microsoft will come down to talk to us. If they can find some one to work on a Saturday.
One side note here of interest. Over the years, Bob Wallace and myself
have been sending what is known in our GT Power network as netmail
messages, and echomail messages to many of the GT Power Sysops who attend
these events. Some of which we have never met in person; we only know them
through these messages and mail connects. This is always fun for us to
finally get the chance to meet one another. This year for Bob and I, we
will have the opportunity once again to meet someone that we have
by Bob Wallace
As noted for you on Page 1 of this July-August issue, Marsha Brandsdorfer will be editing the September-October newsletter. Any submissions for that issue should be directed her way by one of several ways. Snail mail to Marsha Brandsdorfer, 7 West 41st Avenue, San Mateo, California 94403; or by Internet e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org, so long as you are aware that e-mail only is available via Juno.Com, no file attaches allowed.
By way of reminder here, too, note that any submissions to either editor will be appreciated when sent as ASCII DOS Text, if sent on a floppy disk. This is particularly important for those using word processors such as Microsoft Word for Windows, or WordPerfect in any recent version. Each of these word processing programs includes all sorts of information at the top of their files that are good only to those programs in terms of formatting your text for the computer's monitor, or for your specific printer.
Sending anything via Internet e-mail message will, by default, arrive as straight text, and is saved as a text file from within the e-mail program in use, regardless of the message reader in use. On those occasions when a file is attached to an e-mail message, please insure that the file was saved as ASCII DOS Text when saved to your hard drive. This will save your editors an extra step in getting text inserted into the pages. Thanks!
A hearty "Thank You!" goes this issue to Myron Gershenson, Marsha Brands-dorfer and Judy Oliphant for putting articles together for this newsletter and getting them here in time for adding to this issue. It had been my intention to get this out no later than Saturday, but that didn't quite happen.
My own Internet usage has moved from Lois's computer to the OS/2-based system for several reasons, and has turned out to be a good move in several respects. First, the finding of an excellent message reading program for OS/2 named MR/2 Internet Cruiser Edition, or MR/2 ICE. Registration has already been sent off after only a few days of use. Outbound messages are sent at the same time those coming in are being picked up, unlike Eudora Pro which allows for doing one step or the other.
Netscape for OS/2 v2.02 is also on the OS/2-based computer, and saves
at least one step when finding things on the Internet that might be of
interest to others in the GT Power Network. By saving the information on
what is also the Netmail system for the GT Power Network, it's quite easy
to "import" (via the SLMR program) information into any
conference for passing along to others, or for posting into
One of the steps routinely included within this portion of the newsletter used to detail how Perfect Writer was utilized to make up the text files that end up being placed in each issue of the newsletter. Needless to say, Perfect Writer still gets an occasional workout for these files, but most of the "work" is now done using WordPerfect v6.1 for Windows. Several of the articles included here were put into shape with Perfect Writer, saved as a text file, then simply inserted by WordPerfect, using the Insert/File function, then giving the name of the file to be inserted. After asking if this is to be placed in the current document, WP then asks if it's an ASCII DOS Text file that needs to be converted for WP's use. Once each text file is inserted, it's an easy task to change the size of the text intended as headline for each article, and check that the text flowed into the columns as it should be to get the best usage of each line on the pages.
Recently, we installed WordPerfect's Suite 8 on this Windows-based
computer, only to find that this version installs into its own
subdirectory, not into the subdirectory in which WP v6.1 is installed.
That gives us two copies of this program, essentially, which is okay from
my perspective, given that the newsletter form included for WP v8 is not
quite what I'd prefer, thus we'll keep both versions, at least for the
time being. Given some time to copy this form into the other subdirectory
and check it out might mean that we can free up a ton of space on the hard
drive by eliminating WP v6.1 at some point.
July 8: Vacation Planning with your Computer - Myron Gershenson
August 12: Potluck Dinner Dishes for the Potluck dinner will be assigned by last name in the following manner: A-H: Dessert; I-S: Salad; T-Z: Entree
September 9: To be advised
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