The Bug Report
The only Bug that's good for your computer!
A Publication of the Greater South Bay PC Users Group
Volume 18 Number 1
Notice: Excel Sig is moving to #rd Tuesday of the month. Questions: Call SIG leader Garry Sexton.
Thank You SIG Leaders!
REPORT ON GS-BUG HOLIDAY PARTY
SOFTWARE LIBRARY NEWS
PC Wizard: Questions & Answers
A Web Site for Everyone!
The Association of Shareware Professionals - A Primer
Thanks Liz! A heart-felt Thank You to Liz Orban She has done an outstanding job as Editor of the GSBUG Report for the past years. She has set a standard of excellence that will be difficult to equal.
Thank You SIG Leaders!
This is a good time to remember and thank other members of the club who give an all-important benefit to us all by donating their time and expertise leading our special interest Groups and managing our Web Page.
Some of these people are:
Web Page: Rich Bulow
DIG SIG: George Austin
Beginners SIG: Harold Caccamise
Web Dev SIG: Frank Chao
Win 95 Class: Virginia Pfiffner
Win 95 SIG John Sullivan
Excell SIG: Garry Sexton
Hardware SIG: Carl Warner
RAM Sessions: Sheldon Chelsey
Past President: Emmett Ingram
REPORT ON GS-BUG HOLIDAY PARTY
By Virginia Pfiffner
Our last Holiday Party in the 20th Century was a big success and everyone had a good time socializing in front of the roaring fire in the fireplace, enjoying the delicious food and participating in the silent auction and various drawings.
Many members put in a great deal of time and effort to make this occasion a memorable one. First, thanks to the many members who brought their special holiday goodies which we all enjoyed and to those who donated to the auction their hardware and software items which they were no longer using. To everyone who stayed after the party to help clean up, thank you.
Specific people who went beyond the call of duty were Carl Warner who made all arrangements before and after the event for us to use the Scout Center in Torrance. Harold Caccamise did a terrific job with his computer and software to make all kinds of signs for us including the parking signs. The highlight of the evening for Cecil Easley, who directed the car parking activity, was his success in getting everyone into the parking lot, even people who drove down the street and weren't coming to the party.
Emmett Ingram, Bob Hudak, and Masato Saiki did a fine job of securing wood for the fireplace and keeping the fire going all evening. Dixie Rasmussen expressed her culinary artistry by getting the food organized and ready to be served, especially the sandwiches, as did Harold Caccamise who, along with his helper, Alan Haskell, put together and heated the English muffin pizzas. Bob Hudak and Jimmy Corones saw to it that the silent auction went off successfully. Thanks again to all of you.
- Finis - Virginia
SOFTWARE LIBRARY NEWS
by BOB HUDAK
Now that the holidays are over it is time to get back to our computers. It is income tax filing time again. I have a program that will make it almost fun to do. Last year I brought you TaxAct that is a very easy to use program that does a great job and prints out forms that look just like the government printed ones.
This year I have the same program for you. If you used it last year, you can import all your information into this years program. I have not got a copy yet but will have it by the general meeting on a CD for you. Here is some info about it that I got from their site. TaxACT by 2nd Story Software, Inc. completes your taxes faster and easier than ever! TaxACT includes all commonly used forms and schedules and reflects all of the NEW tax laws. And best of all, it's FREE! There are no hidden charges! There are no hidden conditions! Unlike other free products, there are no limitations or missing functionality! It's a full-functioning Windows 95/98/NT application that prepares your taxes in short order and allows you to print your return.
TaxACT includes all commonly used forms, schedules and worksheets. TaxACT includes: Forms 1040; Schedules A, B, C, D, E, F, H, J, R, EIC, SE, K-1 Input; and Forms 1116, 2106, 2119, 2210, 2441, 3903, 4136, 4562, 4684, 4797, 4835, 4868 , 4869, 6251, 6252, 8283, 8453, 8582, 8606, 8615, 8812, 8814, 8829, 8863 and more.
Two easy ways to enter data. TaxACT gives you the option of entering data using the Interview or you can enter data directly onto the appropriate forms and schedules. View your tax refund or amount you owe, it's always displayed, so you'll know where you stand at all times. Just click on the Refund button on the toolbar to review your Tax Summary! Online Help is only a click away! -
TaxACT includes in-product online help to guide you through using the program. Seamless transfer of your federal data to your state return. - TaxACT automatically interfaces with your State Edition once it is installed. If you don't have a State Edition installed, TaxACT will launch your web browser so you can download it from the TaxACT.com web site immediately! The State Edition is not free. Cost a few bucks.
Also on the same CD will be a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0. This is the latest version.
Another program that Rich Bulow brought to my attention, called Down Load Excelerator, will also be on the CD. Download Accelerator Plus is a download manager software that accelerate downloading files from the Internet. Key features of Download Accelerator Plus is it's ability to accelerate downloading files in FTP and HTTP protocols up to 300%, pause and resume downloads, recover from a dropped Internet connection, and showing advertising banners while downloading. The acceleration is done by using more than one connection for the same file, for single or multiple servers. In Addition Download Accelerator Plus will also make a mirror search for downloading from best performance servers. Rich said that it has doubled his download speed on some files. Worth trying. Easy to install.
Still a couple of weeks to the meeting which gives me time to maybe find some other goodies to put on the CD. If miss the general meeting, call me to make arrangements to pick up a copy of this CD.
PC Wizard: Questions & Answers
By Dr. John Hanson
Have you used Pancake Paper?
It's a marvelous resource you should know about. The trade calls it pancake paper but it is just gummed label stock like that used for lick and stick postage stamps and comes in white and several colors. One of the most important benefits is that it doesn't age like self-adhesive labels so won't get stuck on the rollers of your printer. Having labels peel off can cause a lot of grief and may even ruin your printer so whenever I need to use self-adhesive I use the straightest path the printer has available which includes my copy machine. Pancake paper lasts for many years so you can buy several colors and always have them available. Just a few days ago I needed a Dr. Tootie label with my address so in Word Star I made a sheet of six columns across and 26 addresses down for a total of 156 labels. What I do also is make up white sheets with these addresses and when in a hurry I just run a few sheetsof pancake paper thru my copy machine using the white as a master. That way I can have lots of different labels for my products and not have to stockpile too many as I might want to change them in the future. Some of the labels are made a little fancier with a Windows program called Labels Unlimited but it's a pain remembering how to use it each time.
Where can you get this Pancake Paper? Almost any printing supply store like Kelly Paper just southwest of Artesia and Normandie. Don't go to the one on the northeast corner of Western and 190th unless you want to be treated like dirt as well as being overcharged even if you have been a customer before.
Are you tired of software bloat? One of the members called me and told me about his solution. He says the speed increase was dramatic. Save all your important stuff on another drive, etc. and reformat your hard disk and install a fresh copy of Windows. Then put your important stuff back on but keep the copy on the other hard disk as a backup if you have the space. What is software bloat? As the costs of memory and hard disk space have come down software vendors just keep adding to their old programs without removing anything. This is especially true of Windows DLLs which stands for Dynamic Library Link. It is probably just a fancy way of saying a sub-routine which is used by various programs. Each time Windows updates and it drives everyone crazy more DLLs are added and the old ones are left. But you can't remove them willy nilly as one of your older programs might need them.
Am I too hard on Microsoft? Perhaps, but I could alsosay many good things as now you don't have to remember too many DOS commands, you just click on an icon. But it still is not very easy when you want to make changes such as changing to 256 colors. If you don't remember where to look it can drive you crazy. In that respect we are still in the dark ages so you have to attend John Sullivan's excellent Windows SIG or dig thru some books. Way back in the early days of personal computing they used the same tree structure when they allowed you to make chang-es and if you knew where to look it was very easy. Otherwise you could pull your hair out. On my Quattro spreadsheet program there are two date format branches in very different places and if you end up on the wrong one it can be frustrating. So Micro-soft hasn't made that part any easier, just made it different.
One thing I dislike about Microsoft is how ruthless they are about wiping out software programmers or companies that pose no threat to their empire. Of course Gates learned that from IBM who learned it from Carnegie, Morgan and other ruthless operators. If you follow history you can see that in many cases you need to be ruthless to survive like Castro in Cuba. Imagine all the resources of the U.S. working together and they still haven't been able to kill him. I really admire Gates in that he was able to play with IBM and win. Amazing! Now that he is on top he should be nice to the smaller software companies and encourage them. He can still steal their ideas to put in his Windows but in such a way it doesn't put them out of business. Lots of companies steal ideas.
Of my many inventions the first taught me a valuable lesson. I invented the first clock radio (actually the timer parts) and still have the original and shortly after I went to college in a General Electric town they came out with a clock radio. I invented it when I was only 14 to 16 and knew nothing about protecting inventions or even how to refine it for beauty, marketing and production. Actually, inventing is the easy part, making money on one's invention is the part I didn't know. Fortunately one of my inventions has paid off handsomely and has been in production for 38 years.
Any Y2K Problems? It looks like all five of my home computers are OK but I need to check the others and my notebooks. At first when I booted up my most heavily used computer which is a 386 25mc with only 4 megs of Ram I was worried as it came up with a 1980 date but when I changed the date and laterrebooted it remembered the new date. For some reason my 486 came up with the right date as well as all the newer and faster computers. Hope you were as lucky as I. I haven't tried any databaseor spreadsheet calculations involving dates yet.
Need any Info on Batteries? For standard alkaline AA cells the best buy is at Costco in packs of 48 for about 20 cents per cell. These have the Costco Kirland brand but are made by Dura-cell. The ones with the Duracel brand ares not a good buy. For D cells your best bet is 50 cents each from Grace at the Ham Swap Meet at TRW. She has many other good deals as well. Be careful about buying batteries from Barry or others as they could be rejects even tho they have a good date on them. Batteries are a very high profit item in stores so stores push them. Don't fall for low prices on ordinary batteries or "heavy duty" as they don't perform very well at all. Stick with Alkaline and never buy rechargeable alkalines. For rechargeables I prefer NiCads as they are very dependable, will take a lot of abuse and usually can be revitalized. Most new NiCads can be fast charged and the memory effect has been solved. Just because I can revitalize NiCads does not mean you should try unless you have the proper equipment so you don't get battery runaway problems and have experience dealing with lethal voltages. Be very leery of buying any Gel Cells at the swap meet unless you have a voltmeter with you as they could sulfate if left discharged and it is almost impossible to resusitate them.
If gel cells don't have about two volts per cell look elsewhere. Nickle Metal Hydride has had a lot of good press in the last few years as they do have about 150% of the power of NiCads but fast charging them can be very dangerous if they explode so you need an expensive charger that monitors current and temperature. Some members have had good results so you be the judge. Some Lithium Ion batteries are very good but again you need a very sophisticated charger to avoid explosions.
I've been playing with batteries since about age 14 when my father bought about a hundred surplus two volt lead acid batteries that were used for submarine degaussing. Each was about the sizeof six large car batteries. My father wanted them for our ranch in the deep jungle where there were no utilities. The generator was fine in the daytime but at night he wanted quiet. My job was to figure out a way to charge them with small electric light generators not designed to charge batteries and with only enough amperage for a finishing charge which is way below what they were designed to be charged at. My father was an expert in construction but knew very little about sophisticated electricity. My job was to make it work and quickly so they wouldn't sulfate and be ruined. I ended up with a real cluge but it worked for years while I went off to college to learn more about electricity.
Even in the city of Panama there were no stores selling things like relays, resistors or capacitors but the U.S. military was very wasteful and threw away airplanes and other good things in the dump. So with my tools I would take whatever parts I thot I needed and try to figure out a way to make them work as most were designed for 28 volts. As for car batteries or ones to power your UPS for computer blackout protection you should replace them at about half of their guaranteed life. That way you avoid problems.
by Frank Chao, GSBUG
Hello. This is the eighteenth article in the "Internet Talk" series and I have some interesting new developments to tell you about. Also, if you have any comments about what is said in these articles, I would be happy to feature your comments in future articles, with your written permission, of course.
Juno: A Great New Free Internet Service
Most of you think of Juno as a free e-mail service. In the past month, they have added a free Internet option that allows you to "surf" the World Wide Web for free.
To learn more about it go to http://dl.www.juno.com/get/web
However, they have 2 Internet access options and only one is free. "Juno Free Internet Access" is the freebie while "Juno Web Premium Internet Access" costs money. Be careful to select the one that you want.
SOLVING THE CHICKEN AND EGG PROBLEM
Some of you have mentioned to me that in order to get free Internet access, you have to be on the Internet in the first place. I call this a "Chicken and Egg Problem". To get around this roadblock, you can do one of 2 things:
You can contact our club librarian Bob Hudak and he can sell you a CD-ROM disk with software from some of the freebie Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Or, you can find someone who already has Internet access and go to my personal home page at http://fchao.tripod.com and click on one of the hyperlinks to get to the freebie ISPs. While you are at the Web site of your chosen freebie ISP, you set up an account and then order their CD-ROM disk. After this disk arrives, you load in their software and surf the Web.
COMPATIBILITY OF FREE ISPS
We now have 5 totally free ISPs providing dial-up Internet Service here in the Los Angeles, California area: Juno, Worldspy, Netzero, FreeI, and Altavista.
Each has a software package that you have to load into your computer. The good news is that they all get along with each other. Several of you have told me that you have the software for all 5 ISPs loaded into your computers and they all work fine. Of course, you can only connect to one of these ISPs at any given time.
FREE DSL SERVICE
Free DSL service is may be on the horizon. Go to http://www.freedsl.com/ to sign out for it. Don't hold your breath, but it does not hurt to put yourself on the waiting list for this future service.
FREE INTERNET SERVICES ARE BUNDLED WITH NEW COMPUTERS
While paying a visit to the Compusa in Torrance, CA., I noticed that the software for Netzero, one of the free Internet Service Providers (ISPs) is now bundled with several brand name computer systems. Getting onto the Internet for free is getting easier for people with new computers.
CAVEAT EMPTOR AGAIN:
When signing up something for something that claims to be free: don't give out a credit card number. Any service that wants a credit card number will not be free for long. Some ISPs use the word "free" to get your attention and are not free at all. One of these supposedly-free ISPs has signs on bus benches all over the greater Los Angeles area. Please be careful.
VOLUNTEER TEACHING OPPORTUNITIES:
As most of you know, I teach part-time at El Camino College. The class that I am currently teaching is Computer Information Systems 3. It is entitled "Introduction to Microcomputers and Software Applications". This class meets on Wednesday evenings for 9 sessions. It is designed for people who are totally new to computers. If you would like to help me as a volunteer lab assistant, please contact me by means of one of the methods listed below. As a volunteer lab assistant, you would get a free parking pass.
If you would like to work as a volunteer lab assistant for other computer classes at El Camino College, look at the class listing at http://www.elcamino.cc.ca.us then phone Dave Murphy at 310-660-3780. Dave is the coordinator for their volunteer program.
If you would like to work as a volunteer computer consultant at the Torrance One Stop Career Center, please phone or e-mail Michele Arthur. She is looking for volunteers for mornings and afternoons. Her e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org AND her phone number is (310)782-3201.
The Torrance One Stop Career Center is located at 1220 Engracia Ave. in Torrance, CA, USA. It is one half block south of Torrance Ave. between Crenshaw and Van Ness. It has a computer lab with 42 Pentium computers with Windows 95 and Microsoft Office 97.
I will be teaching another Computer Information Systems 3 class at the Torrance One Stop Career Center in March. This class will meet for 9 sessions on Wednesday evenings. If you are interested in participating as a student or as a volunteer lab assistant, please contact me.
WEB-BASED VERSUS POP E-MAIL:
After going to http://mail.yahoo.com and getting a free e-mail account from "Yahoo Mail", one club member stated that she could not receive or send e-mail. After phoning her, I determined that she was attempting to use the "Messenger" POP e-mail feature of Netscape Communicator to send and receive e-mail. That is not going to work. Here is a quick review of basics:
There is 2 kinds of e-mail services: Post Office Protocol (POP) e-mail, also known as POP or POP3 and Web-based e-mail "Yahoo Mail" is Web-based.
If you get an account with the Los Angeles Free-Net, the e-mail service that they provide you is a "POP"-type e-mail account. To send and receive e-mail, you would use a POP e-mail client like Netscape Messenger or Microsoft Outlook Express.
If you get an e-mail account with "Yahoo Mail", the e-mail service that they provide you is a "Web-based" e-mail account. To send and receive e-mail, you would use the buttons that are provided by "Yahoo Mail" at their Website which you would access by means of "Microsoft Internet Explorer" or "Netscape Communicator".
Here is one complexity: If you get an e-mail account with "Yahoo mail", then you can use their "Get other mail" feature to receive/download e-mail from most "POP" e-mail service's like the Los Angeles Free-Net. Hence, "Yahoo mail" is a "Web-based" e-mail service that allow you to retrieve e-mail from "POP" e-mail services.
I never said that the Internet environment was not complicated !
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE:
I get many of the information for these "Internet Talk" articles from the very lively e-mail list/discussion group of the Los Angeles Computer Society. It is the other computer users group that I belong to. To learn more about them, go to their Web site at: http://www.lacspc.org
WAYS TO CONTACT ME:
If you have any questions or problems, I can be contacted by one of the following methods:
1. Leave a voice message for me at 310-768-8951.
2. Send me e-mail at: email@example.com
3. Send me "snail" US Postal Service mail to Frank Chao, PO Box 6930, Torrance, CA 90504-0030.
Or sell your computer and take up fishing instead !
Do You Yahoo!?
Talk to your friends online with Yahoo! Messenger. http://im.yahoo.com
A Web Site for Everyone!
By Steve Morgan
Isn't it incredible? The number of Internet users is growing by 20-30% per year. In just a few more years, the industrialized countries will have 80-85% of all their citizens connected. But with all the excitement over the number of people joining the Internet, it is easy to overlook the gigantic number of web sites that are being created!
Personal home pages, business home pages, news articles, retail sites, government sites, the figures are mind-boggling! From November of 1997 to November of 1999, total web pages grew from 320 million to 830 million! And the number will continue to grow exponentially as more people gain Internet access. One of the reasons for this vast increase is because people are creating their own personal web pages like there is no tomorrow! I believe that within 3 years, most people connected to the Web will have their own personal website. Admit it, haven't you at least thought about having a web page with your name on it? Imagine it, big as life! <www.<yourname>.org>, your portal to prestige, convenience and networking possibilities!
Personal web pages can be used for current addresses, resumes, life history, goals, pictures and any other information that you want others to have. Or create an extended family website that would be a 1-stop information resource where all family members could keep information current, show their pictures, tell what they are presently doing, show where they are living and talk about what they are working on. Each family member would have a subdirectory linked to the main page, such as <www.<familyname>.com/<yourname>, along with an email address <yourname>@<familyname>.com. Privacy can also be assured by requiring a password before anyone can view your site.
But think, what is the one thing that every one of these web pages needs? Bingo! A unique address! And this is where trouble appears. Believe it or not, your name is probably already registered to someone else! While there may be thousands of John Smith's, there are currently only a few easy ways to set up a web page called Johnsmith. The main ways are with a .com, .net and. org. Additionally every nation has its own designation such as .uk for the United Kingdom, or .to for Tonga. Some countries require that you live there in order to use their designation, while others see it as a lucrative revenue stream to sell the designation to people desperate for an easy to remember address.
Finding a good web address is made even more difficult since many organizations will register all permutations of their name to prevent imitators and gripe web sites. I first came to grips with this when I tried to register Morgan.com. It seems that the J.P. Morgan Corporation has taken all of the morgan.com, net, and org site names out of availability. And let's face it, look in the phone book and there are hundreds of families named Morgan in there. Based on how hard it is to find any available name with Morgan in it, these people are gobbling up web addresses like there is no tomorrow! And who can blame them? Once someone registers a web address, they can keep it as long as they keep on paying the yearly registration! They do not even need to have a web site up!
But cheer up! If you are flexible, there are other ways to get a good web address. Your Internet provider will often host your web page and include 5 to 20 megabytes of web space as a member benefit. The downside is that your name is just a part of the provider's name, such as users. <ISP name>.com/<yourname>. If you belong to a smaller provider, you will be able to get a name that is very similar to your own. As the provider becomes larger, the competition for popular names gets fierce. There are also several commercial web sites on the internet that provide up to 20 megabytes for storage of your personal web site, but they will force anyone browsing your website to look at the floating advertising box that is on every page. Another problem is that your web address will have about 10-20 subdirectory names, which is too many for people to easily remember.
OK, you are now in a panic to find out if someone out there is using your name. How do you find out?ICANN, or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is the official non-profit corporation that keeps the Internet naming system in order. But they let other companies actually do all the work. There are hundreds of companies that will check out the names you want and tell you if they are available; most of them also offer web-hosting services for your newly acquired web name. One of my favorite's is a Canadian Company called Net Nation at <http://www.netnation.ca>, There you can find out if any of the .com, .net, .org, .to, .nu and .cc suffixes are available, just by putting in the name you would like to search for. If the name you want is taken, it will even tell you who currently owns it! Once you have decided on a name, registration cost varies depending on what country you are registering with, and what company is registering your name. I have seen a low of $17.00 per year and a high of $50.00 per year. The site you are registering with might also charge an additional fee.
So go and register your name now! With 20,000 domain names registered every week, you can't afford to wait! Next Month we will talk about some great low-cost companies that will host your web site, and also examine the different ways to create your very own web site!
This article is furnished as a benefit of our membership in the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an international organization to which this user group belongs. The author, Steve Morgan, is a member of the APCUG Board of Advisors. He represents Region 5, which covers AK, ID, MT, OR, WY, ND, SD and WA. Steve is also a member of the APCUG Editorial
Committee. He's one busy guy!
The Association of Shareware Professionals - A Primer
By Harold Holmes
The Association of Shareware Professionals (ASP) was formed in April 1987 to strengthen the future of try-before-you-buy software as an alternative to conventional retail software.
Today, it's a vibrant international organization with almost 700 shareware authors, distributors, and marketers who can help shareware professionals create and run their businesses. The ASP's members create and market some of the finest software available today.
ASP members' software spans the spectrum, from high-quality accounting and inventory programs for business, to award-winning utilities and games for all computer users. While some of our members' programs, such as WinZip and Paint Shop Pro, are international best-sellers, there are thousands of other excellent business tools, Internet applications, games, educational programs, graphics and multimedia programs that are top-shelf, and available at moderate prices.
Shareware is a method of software distribution, and not a type of program. In fact, try-before-you-buy software is being discovered by traditional "shelfware" companies, and will soon dominate the marketplace.
If you're looking for moderately priced, high-quality software, please visit the ASP's web site at http://www.asp-shareware.org/membersearch.asp. You can do a keyword search and, for most programs, you can purchase them securely online, directly from the author's web site. Or you can visit our members' web sites and download free trial version of their programs. We encourage you to try our software before you buy it.
Do you have questions about specific shareware programs, or about shareware in general? The ASP maintains a public newsgroup on our news server. You're welcome to visit the newsgroup, and post your questions or comments. Hundreds of our members visit this newsgroup every month, and would be happy to try to answer your questions. Just point your web browser to news://news.asp-shareware.org/asp.Public_Discussion
ASP members are always looking for beta testers. They need people who would be interested in trying their programs before they're ready for prime time. Beta testers get to see programs months before anybody else, get their ideas incorporated into the programs, and most end up with a free copy of the program for their efforts. If you'd like to become a beta tester, visit our public newsgroup, and post a message that mentions the types of programs that you're interested in.
If you're a software developer, we hope you'll consider joining the ASP. We offer a wealth of information about how to start a software business and how to market shareware, as well as technical programming information. Our members-only newsgroup has more than 22,000 messages on threads about all areas of program development and marketing. ASP members are always eager to help other ASP members.
We hope you'll visit the ASP web site, and try some of our members' fine software.
- Harold Holmes, President
The Association of Shareware Professionals