The Bug Report
A Publication of the Greater South Bay PC Users Group
Volume 16 Number 3
March 1998

Now You Can Have Your Own Web Site

Use Internet Explorer To View Pictures Offline

Sony Digital Still Camera

Microsoft Presentation

From The Editor

Pentium II - 300

Drive For Perfection

Software Library News

PC Wizard

   Now You Can Have Your Own Web Site!
 A Review of Web Express
 By Thomas Baldwin for GSBUG, Inc.
 
If you are like most of us, you have signed up with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and have started to roam the Internet.  But you may not be aware of the fact that most Internet Service Providers include space on their host servers for your own web site, and its cost is part of that monthly access fee you already pay.  Thatís right, you could have your own web site and it probably wonít cost you a penny more than youíre already paying.
 
The problem with taking advantage of this little-used aspect of your internet service is you have to be capable of creating a web site with all that it entails.  Like most people, you probably donít have the time or the interest in learning how to write HTML documents.  HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and is the formatting that has become the standard for creating web pages on the World Wide Web.  While HTML isnít necessarily very difficult to learn, it also isnít easy for an amateur or a beginner to develop professional looking web pagesÖuntil now!
 
Web Express is an interactive visual web and site management program from MicroVision Development, Inc. that will allow you to create your own web site with the same ease as using a desktop publishing program.  Instead of having to type out anchor, font and title commands, the way HTML documents have been created in the past, Web Express does all the HTML commands in the background for you. This lets you concentrate on building your web site without worrying if you have the code right.

Does that sound tempting?  Well it should!  I can hardly express the fun I had when I used Web Express for the first time to create a web page.  In the past, the web pages Iíve created were done the old fashion way.  I wrote the document in a text editor, without any visual clues of how my web page would look.  After saving the document, I had to open it with a web browser like Internet Explorer.  Only then would I see if the web page looked okay.

Web Express does away with most of the uncertainty in working with HTML.  The Web Express workspace, where you input the text and graphics you want on your web page, acts like a web browser, letting you see the way your web page will look as you build it.  Web Express also allows you to link various pages in your web site with just a click or two.  As a matter of fact, I couldnít find any aspects of creating a web site that Web Express could not do for me with the possible exception of writing the occasional Java applet I might want included in my web site.

I was also impressed with the way Web Express handled working with graphics.  Anyone who has spent any time on the Internet knows that graphics are a big part of any web page.  Everything from the background to the link buttons are made up of graphics.  Web Express makes importing graphics into my web site both easy and impressive.  Aa an example, Web Express allowed me to create original buttons out of photographs by masking the background without having to go into a photo editing program first.  I was able to resize and change formatting of graphics without switching back and forth between programs.

I did run into one limitation with Web Express.  Web Express will only import GIF and JPEG graphics, since these are the only formats that are universally recognized on the web at this time.  This forced me to use a graphics editing program to convert some graphics into these acceptable formats before importing them into Web Express.  The positive spin on this shortcoming is that I became so comfortable using Web Express with every other aspect of creating web pages that I took it for granted that Web Express should be able to import any kind of graphic, converting it to GIF or JPEG as itís imported.  This kind of conversion is something I always had to do in a graphics editing program before anyway, but who knows, maybe MicroVision will take the hint and add this feature in the next version.

One last piece of praise for Web Express has to be mentioned, and thatís the book that came with the software.  Itís a shame that so many companies are willing to spend so much time and money developing software only to include poorly written or incomprehensible manuals with the software, leaving their customers in the dark on what their expensive new software is really capable of.  This is NOT the case with Web Express!  I found the manual easy to read and understand.  It is written in simple enough language that you donít have to be a programmer yourself to understand it.  I also felt that the manual provided a well organized path to understanding how to create web sites and use the software to the fullest advantage.  As your skill in creating web pages increases and you want your web pages to look more professional, the manual covers increasingly more difficult procedures too.  The Web Express manual is one of the few books that came with software that I can honestly say I read cover to cover.

While Web Express isnít the only visual web site development software available today, it definitely does a good job and should give some of the more popular brands a run for their money.  I have no problem recommending Web Express to anyone interested in web development software.

Editor's Note: To run WebExpress you need the following: 80386 CPU or better, Windows 3.1, Win 95 or Windows NT, 8MB RAM, 256 color VGA display. The regular price of Web Express is $69.95. There is a special price of $59.95 for the next 30 days for members if you mention that you belong to GS-BUG, Inc. To order, call Paul Cary at: 1-800-998-4555. You can also order by email at sales@mvd.com
 

Use Internet Explorer to View Pictures Offline
By William A. Parradee, GSBUG, Inc.

Many Internet Explorer (IE) users can not see associated pictures when viewing internet files offline. This article tells how to include the pictures when viewing files offline with IE.  It is based on using Windows 95a to run IE 3.0 on a Pentium 166 machine.  Other combinations may need different actions.

Get Pictures Online First

If you see the pictures online, skip to Viewing Files and Pictures Offline.

The three main reasons for not seeing pictures while online are:
1. The site is exited before pictures appear.
2. The "Show pictures" property is not checked.
3. "Show newer versions of stored pages:" is set to "Never."
The obvious answer to the first reason is to wait longer, sometimes "much"
longer, even with a fast modem.  For the last two reasons, change the applicable IE Property.  You can do it offline or online.

Changing IE Properties

To Change IE Properties Offline: Right-click the IE icon (or The Internet Icon) and choose Properties.  On the General tab, if "Show pictures" is already checked go to the next paragraph.  If not, click on it to add the check mark.  Click OK to finish Properties.  You may want to do the same with "Play sounds" and "Play videos" before you click OK.

From the General tab, choose Advanced tab then Settings.  Select "Every visit to the page."  Click OK in both places to finish.

Note: Settings must be changed to "Never" to see files offline.  Otherwise IE wants to find the file online and gives a message that it cannot be found.  If the Setting is left on "Never" for viewing online, IE will show old files stored on your own machine.  You won't know the difference - unless you notice a date or something.  See the next paragraph if that happens.

To Change IE Properties Online:  Use the menu to choose View, Options.  >From the General tab proceed as in the above paragraphs.  Next press F5 or click Refresh on the toolbar to update the current site and get the pictures.

Viewing Files & Pictures Offline

Get Ready:  Close other programs before starting IE.  Use IE Properties as discussed above.  Change "Check for newer versions" to "Never" and click OK once.  Choose "View files" from the Advanced tab.  It will take a long time for the Temporary Internet Files (TIF) to appear.  If the TIF folder is empty, use Alt+F4 to go back to "View files" and try again.

Almost There:  Select and view an htm (or html) file from the TIF folder.  Some do not have an extension because they are also directories.  The first file viewed in an IE session will take a long time to load.

Right-click empty picture locations and choose Properties to get picture file names.  Other choices include "Show Picture" which doesn't work.  Do the same with underlined items; they may refer to other files you have - or to Internet sites you don't have.

Adjust TIF column widths for better views of the Internet Address and Last Checked columns. You can often locate files if you sort them by address or by date.  If you cannot find a file, return to the file where you found its name.  View its Properties again and note its date and Internet Address. Or sort the TIF folder by file name and press the first letter of the wanted file name.  Scroll up or down to find it.

Finally:  Use Alt+Tab to return to the TIF folder after viewing each picture or htm file; double-click the next file wanted in the TIF folder or use arrow keys to highlight it and press Enter.  View each desired picture in turn.  Choose and view the htm file again.  The pictures should now be included.

Example of Viewing Pictures Offline

Jack London's interesting short story, A Thousand Deaths, was located online.  I wanted to read it offline and view the illustrations.  I started IE offline as discussed above and found the needed files.  They were adjacent files in the TIF folder, which is seldom the case.

Three were htm files with text and locations for pictures.  Two of these had no extension because they were also directories.

These htm files referred to 11 related gif, jpg, and jpeg files.  Some were only lines, dots, or background colors.  One was a photo of Jack London.  Another was a combination of a different photo of him, his signature, and some ruins.

The Properties of underlined items on one htm file gave the names of two related htm files; each of these three files referred to the other two.  Clicking on certain underlined items switched to a different one of them.

One htm file had the names of many of London's books or stories highlighted.  Since I had accessed only one story online, I could not switch to the others offline.  Trying to do so returned a message saying the site could not be accessed.  The same message occasionally appears when the file is IN the TIF folder!

Many files are ads which I usually omit when reviewing files offline.

Sony Digital Still Camera
Looked at by Bob Hudak, GSBUG, Inc.

It was my good fortune to have the opportunity to play with a Sony Digital Camera, model MVC-FD7, that belongs to Emmett. Now, I am not writing a review about this camera because I have not used it enough to really test all the features. But I "can" point out a couple of it's better points.

The wide-angle/telephoto lens and the 1.44 floppy disks used to record pictures are two great, must have, features. The lens lets you fill the view screen with just the subject you want without having to move back or forward. The 10X zoom is great. You can focus down to within 1/2" from a small object and fill the screen. Using floppy disks, you can take 20 to 40 pictures and change disks and keep on shooting.  The other nice thing about being able to change disks anytime is that, if you go from one subject to another, you can keep your files separate just by change floppies. Take a few pictures of the dog, then a few of the grandkids and then shoot some of the project in the garage.  They can each be on a separate disk.  If friends come over and you want to snap a few pictures, just change disks.  You might want to pass on the pictures of your friends without giving your other shots away.

The battery gives you long life between charges. You can take between 300 and 700 pictures, depending on time between pictures and use of flash. The camera compensates for camera shake. This is really necessary if you are hand shooting. As you look into the view screen on the back and try to squeeze a shot off, it is very hard to hold the camera steady. Pictures come out good so it must work. Using a tripod is a great help. I wish the camera had a cable release or an electronic remote to take a picture. This camera is a great improvement over the Apple camera the club had for review a few years ago. I can nit pick a few things, but overall it is a nice unit.

So how do you handle the pictures after you take them? I took the first picture and then spent the rest of the day trying to work with it on the computer. I do not mean to say that it is hard. What I am saying is that, if you are not used to working with graphics, you are in for a learning experience. This experience pointed out that it sure would be nice to have a SIG about digital pictures. There are new words to learn. There are different tools in the editing programs to learn how to use. How powerful of a program do you need? You see, taking the picture is the easy part. Scanning pictures brings the same problems  into play. Our newsletter editor, Liz Orban, has been working with scanned pictures and is further down the learning curve. She gave up some of her time to show me a few tricks. I wish it was as easy as they make it look on TV. So who would like to be our graphics SIG leader? How many members would be interested in a graphics SIG? Let our president, Gary Sexton, know. Or any board member.

Microsoft Presentation
By Herman Krouse, GSBUG, Inc.

This past February 12th we had a very informative session with Microsoft.  The representative came prepared to discuss Frontpage 98, which is their program for producing internet pages.  For those of you that are interested in making internet pages, this should have been a bonus to find out how easily it is done using Frontpage.  On top of all this, Lew Roland won the CD-ROM version of Frontpage 98 as a door prize.  Congratulations Lew!  In addition, there were four other CD's given away by Microsoft.  All this, plus everyone received a free CD Interactive Sampler!

The speaker took us through the steps involved with the use of the sampler and the products that it represents.  The CD sampler takes you through such things as Publisher 98, a rather unique way of combining words and graphics together in a very easy to use format.  Itís something that everyone who does any kind of newsletter, flyer, brochure, web site, post cards, or business card needs to make their publishing easier.

There are other, more sophisticated means of publishing newsletters etc. but Publisher does it without a lot of personal pain.  I have used it on various occasions and find it an extremely useful tool.

The CD sampler also has a trial version of Money 98,  a very useful tool for keeping your checkbook accounts and all the rest of your economic data.  The CD goes on to demonstrate a greeting card workshop which is included as part of the home product CD.  This is the home version of the product much like the Office suite that is designed for use by the average person at home. It also includes Money 98, Encarta and a series of games.

Of the 140 participants that attended, a good informative time was had by everyone.  We hope that Microsoft will come back and visit us again in the future.

From The Editor
By Liz Orban, GSBUG, Inc.

Give away your old 286s

I was surprised to hear that someone will still use the old computers, since I had to give mine to Goodwill some time ago.  I heard on the radio talk show on KFI that a company called Total Concept Services will refurbish computers and sell them to students.  They charge students $29.95 for an AT and $295 for a 386 with lots of software.  They can be reached at 562-598-6914 or support@TCS.Tieranet.com

Report viruses and hoaxes

One of our members recently  sent me a notice of a virus in e-mail.  I immediately checked  the web to see if it was a hoax.  I didnít want to be caught and embarrassed for a third time by passing on a false virus notice.  The sites to check are
http://ciac.llnl.gov/ciac/CIACVirusDatabase.html
http://www.kumite.com/myths
http://www.av.ibm.com/InsideThe Lab/Monitor/Wildlist

Get help

One of the other Users Groups recommended these two sites. I checked them out and liked them. www.free-help.com and www.softhelp.com

Get paged while on the net

You have probably heard of the free service where your friends can page you while you are online to tell you they want you to answer the phone.  Your friends call and it sends a note to your video screen.  www.pagoo.com

Get rid of cookies

The address for the free cookie elimination program is www.luckman.com

Test for Year 2000 compliance

Use a program available on The Source. Y2K224B says it will also fix the problem. Be sure to get it soon since The Source is closing in June.  Good Bye to The Source!

Pentium II-300
By Timothy K Hoke,
Reprinted from PC Alamode, 1/98

Ten years ago I was sitting in a chair happily pecking away on the keyboard that belonged to an XT-8088 IBM compatible computer. I loved that $2,000 machine and couldn't imagine anything better than it, MS-DOS, and WordPerfect 5.0. Wow! Was I ever excited! It was a souped-up job that ran, if memory serves, at a blazing 10 megahertz. Never mind that the 386 had hit the market. I didn't need it or want it. Well, that was then. This is now. Since 1987, I've had a 286, 386, two 486 PCs, and an AMD-233 MMX. Amazingly, each computer upgrade was about $2,000. So much for a retirement account!

As a rule I've never bought state-of-the-art, as it would reach too deeply into my pockets. As I type this review, however, I sit with a Pentium II-300 humming away at my feet. This baby has whipped into shape even cumbersome Windows 95. No, I didn't break down and purchase this leading-edge system. The other day I was talking with Jeff Chamberlain at Amenity Computer Services. As you know, Jeff is one of our oldest advertisers. For that reason, and because he consistently has mail-order-low-prices and is local (and a very nice guy), I regularly buy my computers from him. Having just recently bought an AMD-233 from Jeff that is whiz-bang wonderful, I was still curious about what was then just around the corner.

The other day Jeff took me around that corner and showed me, then he loaned me the latest and greatest, a Pentium II-300. I love my newly purchased AMD-233, but I sure wish I'd waited. The Pentium II-300 is, as a friend likes to say, "more better." My job in this review is to evaluate why the Pentium II-300 is "more better" and then, unfortunately, to give it back to Amenity!

Well, what is so hot about the Pentium II-300? For one thing, it is faster than greased lightening. I ran the Ziff-Davis Speed Rate on it and my AMD-233. The difference in performance is noteworthy. While the AMD processor tested at 688, the Pentium II-300 came in at 1038, or over 65 per cent faster!

Of course, it is more than twice as expensive, but what is a little more money if it satisfies the craving for speed?

The Pentium II-300 has other charms which make it attractive. Perhaps the biggest attraction is AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port). What exactly is AGP and why should you want it? Since I have received calls from members who complained that we reviewers do not define our terms, I'll use terms even I can understand. Speed, to say the least, is everything in a computer. As software and hardware advances make more demands on the system, the CPU (Central Processing Unit) has been challenged. Hence, the continual climb up the CPU ladder from the old 8088 of the 1980's to the present Pentium II-300 (with the 500 peeking over the horizon).

The problem is that one cannot solve all the speed problems by making the CPU faster. There are other variables that act as bottlenecks to the speed of the machine. The ISA bus is just such a bottleneck. Thus, in recent years manufacturers have gone to the faster PCI bus. But as Carol Venezia (PC Magazine) said, "The PCI bus is maxed out . . . the PCI bus went from being a boon to a bottleneck." What happened? Recent popularity of the Internet, games and other graphics intensive applications, with their 2-D and 3-D needs and high speed I/O devices have over-taxed the PCI bus. It just can't keep up! Thus, the graphics cards have not been able to provide the speed necessary, with the result that a super fast CPU could not perform at its optimum. Since graphics was the bottleneck, manufacturers have been scrambling to overcome the problem.

Enter AGP. Now graphics are no longer limited to the slower 33 MHz PCI bus. With the special AGP slot on the Pentium II motherboard, graphics may now run at 66MHz and beyond! Exactly how does it work? Well, not to be too technical, AGP initiates a point-to-point connection between the system chipset and the graphics chip. The graphics chip can now access system memory directly through the system chip set at memory bus speeds. As memory bus speeds increase, graphics will too, bypassing the limiting PCI bus! I am sorry to say that the machine I tested had an AGP slot; it did not have an AGP video card. One reason is that the AGP cards, while on the market, do not have all the bugs worked out yet. Also, the AGP card has not hit the clone market. Computer companies like Amenity Computer Services typically offer such low prices because they capitalize on the much cheaper clone cards. But it shouldn't be long before the clone AGP cards are out. In the meantime, if you are making the move to a Pentium II, spend a little more and get an AGP card. Shop around. Prices are coming down.

Motherboard and chipset are also important aspects of the Pentium II. The machine I reviewed came with an Intel Atlanta motherboard which features a built-in Yamaha sound chip! In addition, it has a 440 LX chipset which is very important for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the 440 LX chipset facilitates the highly touted SDRAM which runs at 10 nanoseconds rather than EDO RAM which runs at 60 nanoseconds. Interestingly, SDRAM prices, while a little higher than EDO RAM, have fallen recently (because of increased demand) and are very affordable. The system I tested had 64 MB of SDRAM, which was just part of the reason for its blinding speed. This is one more reason to purchase the Pentium II-300.

The 440 LX chipset also features support for the Ultra DMA hard drives. Since they run about two times faster than standard hard drives, they are a must. I tested with a 6.4 gigabyte Quantum Ultra DMA. With its fast access, affordable price tag, and the promise of continued software bloat, I highly recommend it. A 3.2 Gigabyte hard drive should be the entry level now.

Several other items are worth mentioning. First, the modem I tested on was a WebCruiser 56K. Unfortunately, I never got on line at better than 36,000 bps, while the 56K modem on my 233 MMX machine consistently gets on at 40,000 bps. Go figure. The second item is the 24X Memorex CD-ROM. It works like a charm. Listing at only $75, I can't imagine getting anything less!

What about price? Jeff was uneasy about quoting a price because as he said, "Prices are dropping like a rock." On the day I finished this review, December 12, the Express News ran an ad of a large computer chain store for a 300 MHz Pentium II (sans monitor) with only 32 MB of RAM for $2,000. I computed a comparable component part price at Amenity at the time. With 64 MB of RAM, Amenity's price was well under the $2,000 mark. By the time you read this, prices may be even lower! I suggest calling Amenity Computer Services at 647-0125 before you purchase your Pentium II-300. You might just be pleasantly surprised.

Drive for perfection
By Vade Forrester
Reprinted from PC Alamode, 1/98

Welcome to 1998, a year when the PC will begin to evolve towards a new configuration (see the article on computing in the Year 2000). We can expect major operating system upgrades (Windows 98 and NT 5.0). Hardware development will start to converge towards the PC98 specification. And Alamo PC will be here to help introduce new attractions and teach you how to use them. And the PC Alamode has a new, more attractive layout to enhance readability.

As we enter this new year, it may be useful to recap what this column is all about. It is a discussion of items on new technology, both theoretical and practical, that will influence the computer hardware and software we will see in the relatively near future. It is sourced from a wide variety of computer publications, as well as Internet web pages, and filtered through the author's viewpoint on what will be really significant developments. Alamo PC members are mostly working in a single-PC, non-networked environment, so networking products won't be given much attention. On the other hand, new Internet technologies will get a lot of coverage, since 113 of our members use the Internet. The author welcomes feedback and ideas for topics to cover.

Removable drives advance

Both of the major players in removable drive technology, Iomega and SyQuest, have recently started shipping some notable new drives, and have announced even more interesting drives for the near future.

Iomega

This company is the overwhelming leader in removable drives, even if its arch-rival SyQuest offers alternatives that may be superior. Iomegaís success stems from its wildly successful Zip drive, which provides 100 MB of storage on a removable cartridge. Although one can easily make a case for the superiority of the SyQuest EZFlyer, with its 230MB cartridges, Iomega was first on the scene, and has a terrific marketing department, unlike clueless SyQuest. Micron computers (a leading direct-marketing company) has even announced that they will shortly start shipping their PCs with Zip drives installed as the A: drive. That means the Zip drive will be used instead of the inadequate 3½-inch floppy drive. Iomega Zip drives will also start showing up in notebook computers, plugging into the bay where the CD-ROM resides.

ZipPlus drive

Iomega replied to those who faulted the Zip drive for being slow by introducing the ZipPlus drive. Even though it uses standard Zip cartridges, the ZipPlus drive is 28% faster than a standard Zip drive. So far, it is available only in an external version, which has both a parallel port interface and a SCSI interface. (Aside: Iomega passed up a golden opportunity to use the Universal Serial Bus (USB), which will be the primary connector in the PC98 specification.) The ZipPlus drive has a new power supply that is much smaller and lighter than the old Zip external drive, making it more attractive to carry around with your notebook computer. And it corrects a major omission in the older Zip drives by providing an on/off switch.

The ZipPlus drive also includes a substantial bundle of new software. There are programs to help process and catalog digital images, to turn your Zip drive into a VCR for the Internet (why?), and the most interesting for me, to record music on your Zip drive. Iomegaís Recordlt software turns your ZipPlus drive into a digital audio recorder. You can record from your favorite music CDs onto Zip disks, or even use your ZipPlus drive with a microphone-equipped notebook computer to record meetings, conferences, or dictate notes.

The ZipPlus drive is available now for $199.99. Cartridges can be found for as little as $10. If the Zip drive takes off as the A: drive in new computers, look for prices to drop dramatically.

Jaz drive

The Jaz drive is Iomegaís answer to the need for a large capacity storage medium. Although it is available only with a SCSI interface, Iomega offers a parallel port-to-SCSI adapter that lets you connect to a printer port on your laptop. The standard internal Jaz drive sells for about $300, and its 1 MB cartridges sell for about $100. External Jaz drives sell for about $400.

Apparently SyOuest, with its SyJet drive priced the same as the Jaz drive, but with cartridges holding 1.5 GB and costing 2/3 the price of a Jaz cartridge, spurred Iomega to improve the Jaz. It recently announced the Jaz 2 GB drive, with a cartridge holding 2 GB. Although its announced release date was the last quarter 1997, I haven't seen these drives as of the December 10th deadline for the magazine. Costs are considerably higher than the 1 GB Jaz: $549 for the internal model and $649 for the external. And 2 GB cartridges will sell for around $149. The interface will be SCSI, of course. The drives seem unreasonably expensive to me. At that price, the SyJet still looks pretty attractive. And I understand SyQuest is working on a 2 GB model.

Clik drive

The most innovative of the new Iomega drives isn't available yet, but holds great promise for the future of hand-held devices. The Clik (Iomega must not get spelling checkers for its word processors) is a matchbook-sized drive with 40 MB capacity. The drive will be about 3.4 x 2.1 x .26 inches in size and will weigh about two ounces. The cartridge itself will weigh about .35 ounces. Estimated price for the drive is $200, while the removable cartridges will cost about $10. The drive and cartridges will be very rugged and require very little power. The drive will start shipping about mid-year.

Who will benefit from this drive? Anyone who makes a handheld electronic device. Consider that one of the primary weaknesses of the so-called palmtop computers is that it has no drive at all, and must store all information in memory. The Clik drive will overcome that limitation. Since the palmtop computers have the operating system (Windows CE) and software built into ROM, all the drive can be used to store data. The Clik will be even more useful as a removable storage device for digital cameras. One of the biggest obstacles to using digital cameras is lack of a good storage medium for the graphic images they produce. The small, light Clik drive will provide much more space than the memory cards that most such cameras use, and by having a Clik drive in your computer, you can just plug a Clik cartridge into your PC to load the image files. You won't have to fool with connecting cables or installing a PC Card reader in your computer to transfer the images. Hitachi has already announced it will use a Clik drive in one of its forthcoming cameras. Even cellular telephones will be able to use the drive, since those phones are becoming much more than just voice devices. You can download your e-mail to some cell phones and read it on their display screens.

SyQuest drives

SyQuest, which has been playing catch-up with Iomega for a long time, has announced two new drives which could make it much more competitive, if its marketing department can take advantage of them.

SparQ drive

The most interesting, which is already in the stores, is called the SparQ drive. It sells for about $200 in either its internal or external configuration: the same as the ZipPlus drive. But the SparQ cartridges hold 1 GB of data; a 10-fold increase over the Zip drive. And the SparQ cartridges sell for $34 each in packs of three, one-third the cost of a Jaz cartridge. To make things easier, the internal SparQ drive uses an EIDE connection, while the external drive connects to a parallel port. Apparently SyQuest doesn't think expensive SCSI con-nections are going to interest most com-puter users. And the access time is twice as fast as a Zip drive, and about the same as a Jaz drive. At these prices, you can buy 4 GB of storage for $300, not much more expensive than a nonremovable drive. SyQuest bundles several programs with the SparQ, but they don't seem as useful as the ZipPlus software.

If SparQ drives work well, it will be very hard to recommend a Zip drive, except for exchange of data with other Zip-equipped computers. And forget about a Jaz drive; why pay 50% more for the same capacity, and then pay three times as much for additional cartridges?

With the exception of the Clik, these drives could serve as backup devices to back up your primary hard drive. Does that make sense? See the sidebar, Backing Up on Removable Drives.

Quest drive

And now for something really big! For those who need even more storage capacity in their removable drives, SyQuest offers the Quest drive. This monster provides 4.7 GB storage on a removable cartridge. Designed for the professional audio and video editor in the field, the Ouest uses an Ultra Wide SCSI connection to maximize data transfer speed. SyOuest emphasizes the air filtering system that cleans the drive cavity and the disk platter of particulates in less than 1.5 minutes. Even if the drive is used outside, it should not get contaminated by dust or dirt.

Who needs a removable drive this size? Notice that the capacity of the drive mirrors the capacity of the (relatively) new DVD disk? The drive is optimized for mastering a DVD. You can store an entire movie on one cartridge. You can also use it to record, edit, and mix audio CDs. It will hold over nine hours of two-channel audio, or one hour of 16 track recording. The Ouest drive would also be a great medium for storing a big multimedia display. The Ouest should appear in the first quarter of 1998. Prices have not been announced.

Seagate Elite 47

And now for something REALLY big! This new drive from Seagate holds a whopping 47 GB of data! Relatively slow by SCSI standards, its capacity is unmatched. This drive was made for servers, where it should be a rousing success. Its 1,000,000-hour mean-time-between-failure (MTBF) rating means it will run continuously for 115 years before failing, another attractive attribute. Of course, MTBF ratings tend to be optimistic, in my experience, but even if it overstates the reliability by 2/3, the drive will last longer than the computer it's attached to. The Elite 47 requires a 5 1/4 inch mount-ing space. No price was given.

Backing Up on Removable Drives

Cartridge drives aren't particularly cost-effective as backup devices, not because they lack capacity, but because tape drives still store far more megabytes per dollar. It really depends on how much data you have to back up. Let's say you have 2.5 GB of stuff on your hard drive. You can store that on a Travan TR-3 cartridge, which nominally holds 3.2 GB (more if you use the Verbatim TR-3 EX tapes). A tape costs about $25, so for about $175, you can get a tape drive that stores the contents of your drive. If you wanted to use the SparQ drive, you would need the drive ($200) plus two additional cartridges (2x$34=$68). So you would spend $268 to back up the drive with a SparQ, in contrast to $175 for a tape drive. But you really need at least two separate backup sets, so the cost of the tape system (drive plus two tapes) would be $200, while the SparQ system (drive plus five cartridges) would cost $370. Additionally, you would have to change cartridges twice when using the SparQ. So tape is still the cost-effective backup medium, and I would advise against buying a removable drive strictly for backup purposes.

If you need the removable drive for other storage purposes, the above calculations change. Subtract the cost of the removable drive, and you will pay only $200 for enough cartridges to give you two backup sets. That makes the costs essentially equal, so the SyQuest SparQ drive would be cost effective as a backup drive. Also, you would find it to be much faster than a tape drive, another benefit.

Software Library News
By Bob Hudak, GSBUG, Inc.

I had a few requests this month for programs that I did not have in the library. I went looking and came up with a couple that might be of interest.

The first one is DIR PRINTER on disk # 83. Printing the names and contents of directories under Windows 95 is hard to do. This program solves the problem. It prints the names (and, optionally, date and time of last modification) of all files on a drive or in a directory.  The program will also print the contents of subdirectories if requested. The 32-bit version of DirPrn supports long filenames under both Windows 95 and Windows NT. Freeware.  Requires Visual Basic 4.0 Runtime (VB40032.DLL) (it's on the disk). DirPrn allows you to select a disk drive and directory.  You may also select a font by clicking the program's Font button.  When you are ready to print the selected drive/directory's contents, click the program's Print button.  The program will then display a standard Windows print dialog box, allowing you to select a printer, specify number of copies, etc.  Program comes with entire source code so you can make changes if you are into programming.

The next program is for printing envelopes and labels. ENVELOPES PLUS, on disk # 66, prints any size envelope on dot matrix, laser, and inkjet printers.  Also prints 1-4 column labels, Rolodex cards, and dials phone numbers. Very easy to use, clear intuitive interface. The program not only has the ability to generate a typical mailing label (with first, last name, address, city, etc. fields), but also can print general purpose labels (such as inventory and identification labels). The program was designed for the beginning to intermediate level computer user who needs a simple,  yet powerful database without having to worry about field lengths and types, indexes, layouts and ranges. Pull down menus, mnemonic functions keys, and the uncluttered screen layout make the program very user friendly. It has the ability to automatically dial phone numbers that have been entered into the user's database records (requires a modem). It prints to Avery label sheets on laser and inkjet printers. My favorite label program is STIKEME on disk #9. It is a Dos program that works very well with Epson dot matrix printers but does not understand laserjets and inkjets too well. That is why I am looking for a simple to use label program that will work on today's printers and under Win 95. Are you using a shareware program that you can recommend?

I have the latest copy of Viruscan on disk # 42. You do check every new program for viruses, right?

Microsoft  Win98
 
Win 98 will be demonstrated in  a two hour satellite broadcast at UA Westwood 10am on April 4, 1998.  You can register at  www.microsoft.com/magazine/msextreme

PC Wizard
By Dr. John Hanson, Brain Development Center
P.O. Box 1862, Redondo Beach, CA 90278

Have you heard of dictation software?

It has been around for a number of years but none have been very good. Even when you talk in a staccato fashion with pauses between each word, the accuracy is quite poor. If it worked, imagine how useful it would be! I could put my ideas on disk while driving. Unfortunately, driving and dictating is not very realistic unless you have a high end laptop. This is because these programs require enormous power. But even at home it could be very useful, especially when you have ideas in the middle of the night and don't want to turn on the lights and really wake up. If the continuous speech recognition technology is perfected, it could speed up your productivity as people can talk about 140 wpm and even the best typists probably only average 40 wpm. IBM is the only company advertising their program on TV but Dragon Systems has been attacking this problem for some time also.

Now, both companies are claiming continuous speech recognition, but be very careful as they make several versions at different price labels with almost identical boxes. Take the boxes and find a comfortable chair somewhere so you can read the boxes in detail. You are lucky if you are in a store that has several versions. Suppose you didn't know there was a better version. In this way, stores take advantage of customers. Read a number of magazine reviews.

IBM gave a great presentation to user group officers at Comdex but it could have been staged to work well. A recent magazine review said the IBM program takes many more hours to train for each speaker than the Dragon Systems. Be careful as IBM has at least three versions and a passer by stopped to tell me he bought IBM and it didn't work.

Dragon Systems has at least two versions in almost identical boxes but the better one says "preferred". Their program is called Naturally Speaking but, on reading the boxes carefully, you discover that only the preferred claims continuous speech recognition. The box for the preferred version says in big letters that  you can dictate directly into Word instead of doing it into their program and later sending it to Word. However, even that is deceptive as somewhere on the box in much smaller print is the statement that you need to download a free 16 MB file in order for you to use this feature. Who has the time to download a 16 MB file? It would be so easy to include it on the CD-ROM and be nice to customers. I wrote to Dragon Systems and asked them to send me that extra file and so far they have not answered, so my advice is not to buy either program.

There is a third viable option from a guy named Kurzweil who has been tackling this problem probably before IBM. He has a flyer out that makes it appear you can get good dictation for only $30 and it's guaranteed money back for 30 days. As you read the fine print several times you discover that you need to order an additional $30 package called Voice Plus which has no guarantee but supposedly will make the first one work. Later when you read the whole thing again you discover you need a third $30 package called Command which allows you to dictate into Word 7. If it works it could be a good deal. Write to PC World and ask them to evaluate it before you plunge. Beware of any program with the word Command as that implies it only responds to single discrete words and not normal dictation.

Where can you buy memory?

All the magazines have a lovely ad in blue and black from a company named L.A. Trade. The ad is very catchy but it reminds me of some of those camera store ads where you have to be very careful. It turns out that the son of the owner lives just a few houses from me and is a fine young man. That in itself gives the company credibility. They are in Torrance near Western and Sepulveda. Besides memory, they sell batteries for notebooks, as well as PC cards and notebook hard drives. Their minimum is only $40 so it looks like a good deal. Check them out and let me know. The phone number is 310- 539-0019 or check their web site at  www.4LAtrade.com.

Do you remember the days?

When all the files for a particular program were in one directory. If you didn't like it you could delete it easily. Now install programs sprinkle files all over the place and even modify your other files, usually without asking. Maybe we should encourage Sun to take over with Java and give Microsoft some competition and get out of this mad, constant, buggy update cycle. We need more companies like wonderful Corel. They even provide bug fixes for older versions of their programs so you don't have to update and get new bugs. What a great idea. Gradually these programs will become perfect.

Imagine, with Wordstar I never get bugged for updates and everything works. I still keep learning new things about this old DOS program which I use for hours every day to pump out letters, reports and new product literature. It is a shame that they had such good engineers but vicious marketing people who gave the company such a bad name and probably were responsible for their demise. Publish It had a great program and one day they just died. Anyone know why? Tomorrow I need to make a fancy product label that Wordstar canít do, so I will try Word, Word Perfect or maybe Labels Unlimited. But it will be a chore remembering how to get results with these programs. One of my books on using Tooties is in Amipro 3.0 format so sometime soon I should convert it to one of the other programs. Amipro did the job to get the book published. But wow! What a miserable program to get it to do what you want! During the months of getting the book ready for many hours every day and evening I was constantly being frustrated. Do we have any Amipro experts in the club?
 

Editor's Note: John Hanson is the inventor of Tooties, a superb self-teaching system used by millions in schools, homes, and by eye doctors around the world to improve vision. He also invented a new form of psychology called QET (Quick Effective Therapy) which transforms poor students into good into good students, almost overnight, usually in 5 to 15 days. He has also had outstanding success in helping brain damaged people, even years after their accident. Why go to therapy for years and spends lots of money when you can improve quite fast with QET? He uses computers to document his cases for his books so that others may benefit.
 
 


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