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 4
by Frank Chao
Hello. Let me start by welcoming you to this, the Twenty First article, in the "lnternet Talk" series.
NEWS FROM"INTERNET WORLD":
On Friday April 7th, Liz Orban and l attended "lnternet World" at the Los Angeles Convention Center. This year's show was the largest ever, with exhibitors filling 3 halls of the convention center. Liz and l perused the exhibits from 9AM to 3PM and we both learned a lot. If you missed this fascinating show, you can visit it on-line by going to
The most interesting product exhibits that we visited were:
1st Net Technologies' Crayon Crawler,
Broadband Digital Group's FreeDSL, and
Internet Pictures Corporation's lPIX,
Here is some information about these 5 products:
CRAYON CRAWLER: A KID-SAFE PORTAL TO THE INTERNET:
Children's Technology Group provides a free software product called "Crayon Crawler". This software provides "Kid Safe" e-mail, chat and Web access for the children in your life. Their "Book Reader" applet is a great tool for teaching children to read. For more information, go to http://www.crayoncrawler.com
NETPLIANCE's l-Opener: AN INTERNET APPLIANCE:
Netpliance's l-Opener is a low-cost stand-alone device that allows people to access the World Wide Web without using a computer. For about a hundred dollars (plus 20 dollars if you want a traditional mouse), you get an appliance with a 10-inch flat-panel LCD display, weighing a mere 5.08 pounds, that provides dial-up 56kpbs access to the Internet. This Internet terminal has two obvious advantages over Internet access by means of a computer: it has a significantly cheaper initial cost AND it has much less of a learning curve for the neophyte. However, this device has 2 significant disadvantages: It's 10inch monitor screen is much smaller than the monitors of most personal computers. The second disadvantage is that in order to connect to the Internet, you have to subscribe to Netpliance's "I-Opener" dial-up Internet Service Provider for a hefty fee of $21.95 per month. There are additional charges from 1Opener, if one of l-Opener's local telephone numbers is not a local phone call for you. The l-Opener represents cutting-edge technology. More and better Internet appliance terminals will be available from both Netpliance and other companies in the near future. Someone had to be brave enough to be first. For more information, go to http://www.netpliance.com
Broadband Digital Group's FreeDSL:
As of April 3, 2000, Broadband Digital Group has started installing free DSL accounts in the San Francisco bay area. Regardless of where you live, you can sign up for a free, advertising-supported DSL Internet access account at their Web site. While you are waiting for them to start installing here in the Los Angeles area, they will offer you a free dial-up account for connecting to the Internet at 56Kbps. However, even these "consolation prizes" are not available yet here in the Los Angeles area. In the meantime, you might sign up for their future services at their Web site anyway so that you will be among the first to get their services when they finally start deploying free DSL here. For more information, go to http://www.freedsl.com
IPIX: A FASCINATING 3
Internet Pictures Corporations' iPIX technology is used by Web sites to offer images that provide you with virtual 3 dimensional tours. By clicking and dragging on an IPIX activated picture on a Web site, you can move the picture 360 degrees and zoom in and out of what the picture depicts. The real estate industry uses this technology to give prospective home buyers virtual tours of homes. This technology has also been used at travel and entertainment industry Web sites. Pictures in the IPIX format are definitely more captivating than regular pictures. To see for yourself, go to http://www.ipix.com
MYFAVORITEI—ANOTHER GREAT FREEBIE ISP:
During the month, "myfavoritei" became the seventh totally-free Internet Service Provider (ISP) to offer local diai-up phone numbers for 56Kbps modem access here in the Los Angeles, CA, USA area. Their free software can be obtained at
http://www.myfavorite.net I personally verified that they are totally compatible with the other 6 totally-free ISPs that are also loaded into my Pentium computer. Hence, if you are not on-line yet, here is yet another way for you to get on-line without paying monthly fees to one of the commercial ISPs. If you do not have a way to download their software, you might be able to talk Bob Hudak, our club librarian, into adding it to the CD-ROM's that he sells at cost to club members.
SEVEN TOTALLY FREE ISPs:
There are now 7 totally-free dial-up ISPs with local phone numbers in the Greater Los Angeles area: Altavista Connections, Bluelight, Freel, Juno, myfavoritei, Netzero, and Worldspy
There are hyperlinks to all of their respective Websites at my personal homepage which is located at: http://fchao.tripod.com Worldspy remains the only one that does not put an advertising bar on your monitor screen. I recommend that you use them as your primary freebie ISP and pick a second one as a backup for the sake of redundancy, since all ISPs, even commercial ones, have busy signals and other show-stopping problems at least a fraction of the time. Let me know which of the freebie ISPs work best for you and I will discuss your comments in future articles.
STAROFFICE 5.2 PREVIEW:
"StarOffice Preview 5.2" is now available. Download it for free at http://www.sun.com Sun Microsystems offers this totally free software to you as a feisty alternative to Microsoft's "Microsoft Office" suite. This latest and greatest version of StarOffice has more compatibility with Microsoft Office 2000 file formats than the previous version of StarOffice ("StarOffice 5.1@ StarOffice Writer is a word processing application that can open and save files in many of the formats that are available in Microsoft's Word 2000. StarOffice Calc is a spreadsheet application that can open and save files in many of the formats that are available in Microsoft's Excel 2000. StarOffice Impress can open and save files in many of the formats that are available in Microsoft's Powerpoint 2000. StarOffice Preview 5.2 has many improvements over StarOffice 5.1 It acts and looks a lot more like the various Microsoft Office suite applications that most of us already are familiar with. All of the various StarOffice 5.2 applications run slower than the Microsoft Office applications that they are analogous to. However, the price is right. Try it out and let me know what you think of it. This amazing freebie might save you a sizable sum of money if you use it instead of spending your hard-earned cash for one of the flavors of Microsoft Office.
At this point, two words of warning are appropriate:
Warning 1: "StarOffice Preview 5.2" is a beta product: You might encounter unforeseen problems with it. Also, it is a time-limited software package. It expires and quits working on June 30. By the time that this version expires, the regular version
of "5.2" will probably be available and you can then install it for free of course. If the production version of "StarOffice 5.2" is still not available at that time, you could always download the older 5.1 version of "StarOffice" from http://www.sun.com and run it instead.
Warning 2: Many of the fancier features of Microsoft Office are not available in "StarOffice". For example, you cannot run Microsoft Excel Visual Basic for Applications from inside StarOffice's "Calc". StarOffice has it's own macro system which is independent of Microsoft's, so that the macro languages of the two systems are not interoperable.
However, despite these 2 caveats, I have personally used the "Calc" spreadsheet application, the "Writer" word processing application, and the "Impress" presentation software of this "StarOffice Preview 5.2" without any problems. Try it. sun Microsystems has pulled off another software miracle in their efforts to thumb their noses at Microsoft.
WIRELESS CONNECTIONS TO
THE INTERNET IN ALASKA:
A friend of Liz Orban's wishes to make wireless connections to the Internet as she travels across this wonderful country and up into Alaska. Here is what we recommended to her:
To maximize your chances of making a connection, buy a "dual mode" (also known as "dual network") cellular phone such as a Motorola StarTac 7797 phone. A "dual network" phone would let you connect via a digital PCS system (cheaper) and, when PCS is not
available, you could connect to traditional "AMPS" analog cellular systems in roam mode, which is more expensive. See:
for a example of a "dual network" phone. Let me know if you want me to find you more but this model of Motorola cellular phone is the most popular "dual network" phone that I know of. To avoid cellular roaming charges as much as possible, use "AT&T Digital One Rate". This is a state-of-the-art nationwide PCS system and they have coverage in Alaska whereas their competitor "SprintPCS" does not appear to have any coverage in Alaska yet. See:
They also have coverage in all 48 contiguous states and much lower costs than analog cellular roaming. Your portable/laptop or palmtop computer will have to have at least one Type II "PC Card" card slot but all of the recent models have at least one, so it is unlikely that you will buy a portable computer that does not have a Type II "PC Card" slot. Finally, you will need a "cellular modem" which is a 56K/V.90 modem that can connect to both regular land-line phone systems and has an optional "cellular cable" that can connect your "cellular modem" to your specific brand and model of cellular phone. The "cellular cable" is usually sold separately from the "cellular modem". One good example of "cellular modem" is "Smart Modular Technologies" "56K Rapid Transit PCMCIA Modem". See
http://www.mobileplanet.com/product .asp?dept%5Fid=4401 &pf%5Fid=MP-520401
Don't use 3COM/Megahertz's cellular modem since they use a pop-out "Xjack" connector (when connecting to land-lines) and "Xjacks" are not as reliable as the "umbilical cord"-type of cellular modems.
For more ideas, see
Also, AT&T Wireless Service's competitor in Alaska is "GCI Cellular". You can learn more about them at http://www.qci.com/callinq/cellserv.htm They are located in Anchorage at 2550 Denali Street. Their phone number is 1-800-8004800 if you wish to phone them for ideas. They sell and service Motorola cellular phones so it would naturally be handy to have a Motorola cellular phone if you end up in those parts with a problem. However l would not recommend incurring their roaming charges unless absolutely necessary. <End of quote>
What are your thoughts on Internet access for "road warriors"? Let me know by means of one of the methods listed below.
WAYS TO CONTACT ME:
if you have any questions or problems, l 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: firstname.lastname@example.org 3. Send me "snail" US Postal Service mail to
PO Box 6930
Torrance, CA 90504-0030.
Thurs. May 11
(Reg mtg place & Time)
Wed. May 24
Corel Photo Paint 9 Product Description: Corel Photo-Paint 9 offers the necessary tools you need in order to design creative and extraordinary images for print or the Web. It includes 1,500 floating objects Human Software Squizz! for distortion, effects, and ixia digital camera interface.
Corel Draw 9
CorelDRAW 9 Office Edition addresses the need more and more businesses have for solid, eye-catching presentations and printed documents. The package has all the tools for creating these articles of communication with style, along with some bonuses to jump-start your own media department. The star of the package is CorelDRAW itself, now up to version 9. Corel DRAW is a solid vector graphics drawing application with no shortage of features, and by itself is an excellent graphics tool. This Office Edition, however, adds value to CorelDRAW by including a
well-rounded collection of clipart images (25,000 of them), 500 business-document templates, and 100 highquality, business-oriented photographs. Clip art and photos like this are rarely used as is; using them creatively as foundation elements in CorelDRAW is the key to making them fit your company's image.
CorelDRAW 9 Office Edition also includes Corel Presentations, a slide-show engine that can be used for interactive presentations. While not as sophisticated as other multimedia development environments, it is more than capable of creating basic presentations.
Wordperfect 9 Product Description With Corel's WordPerfect Family Pack, you can create professional-looking letters, reports, and newsletters. Keep track of home assets or develop a family budget. Make school projects more polished with colorful graphics and special effects. Plus, create your own greeting cards, party decorations, certificates, and more. Corel also offers a $20 mail-in rebate for registering your copy of Corel's WordPerfect Family Pack with them. May 24 (Microsoft Program This will be a presentation of Microsoft’s Money 2000 Financial Management Soft Ware. John Sellers Program Chairman
I installed a Shark PCI 56K Modem in the club computer a few weeks ago at one of our Tuesday hardware clinic at the Torrance Scout Center. The install went really easy except for one little problem. Rich Bulow was helping, as usual, and he just could not plug this PCI modem in one of the ISA slots. <G> Other then this bad start it was really painless. The drivers are on a CD and Windows finds them without any help. It makes good connections at high connect rates. This is a Win modem with a Motorola chip.
You need a Pentium 166MHZ MMX or higher with 256K L2 cache, Win 95t98, 16MB Ram, 20MB hard disk space to make it work. We have had problems installing Win modems in the past. Maybe because the computer system did not have the required hardware. This Shark modem is right up front telling you what you need. This of course is also a 14.4 K fax modem. It also has speakerphone features. I have not tested any of these because at this time I have no need for them. Shark is offering club members a 50% discount on their products. Below are some messages from Shark's web site and some email I received.
"Shark Multimedia offers a 50% discount off of the published retail price for any of following groups: Fortune 1000 Companies Educational Institutions Students and Teachers Non-Profit Organizations.
Members of Computer User Groups or Clubs(With I .D.) Governments Offices Product Leopard Win 56 PCI S.R.P. $34.99, Discount Price $17.50. Predator PCI Soundcard S.R.P. $34.99, Discount Price $17.50. Leopard Pocket USB Modem S.R.P. $79.99, Discount Price $40.00. http://www.sharkmm .com/ Call 1-800-800-3321 for details. Ask for "End-user sales"
"We are currently qualifying various dealers throughout the nation to become a Shark partner. Southern California is my next target. In the meantime, you can have your members call Bargains Inc., one of our online retailers @ 510.623.1845. They are aware of the 50% off the retail price deal and will be happy to take care of your members. Make sure the members let the salesperson know that they are a member of your users group. Otherwise, they will be quoted the original retail price for the items. I will let you know of a local store as soon as we get them set up. Thank you for your interest in Shark Multimedia. If you have any questions please feel free to call or e-mail me. email@example.com Best Regards,
Sirena Ong Reseller Account Executive 510.979.9800 Ext 25
Shark Multimedia, Inc.
48890 Milmont Drive, Unit 101-D Fremont, CA 94538
Questions & Answers
By Dr. John Hanson
Are you getting Value? Some time ago I told you how to get a good computer at the Pomona Computer Fair. I hadn't been there in a while so in my latest visit I noticed a big difference. As the prices of computers and components fall there is also a fall out of vendors. There was a noticeable drop in the number of booths selling complete systems. As they dropped out, their places were taken by specialists selling various components so the fair was just as crowded as ever and occupied two buildings.
That drop off has caused many smaller computer vendors with stores to go out of business so if you are cautious like I am avoid mail orders as you may not get delivery. It is better to pick it up in person. An example is a store at 16711 Hawthorne that advertises in Microtimes. Some of the members were talking about what appeared to be a good value of $139 for an AMD K-6 450 mc complete with video card, 56 K modem, etc. All you need to add is memory, floppy drive, hard drive and maybe a CD Rom. One of our talented technical members, who has been to the store, suspects they are a "bait and switch outfit". If I were to buy their system I would ask them to temporarily add a floppy drive and memory so I could boot it up from the floppy and test it with some DOS programs. That free Data Advisor disk we got from that talented on Track speaker would be useful to see what the system really has. I would also run SysInfo and of course Word Star as I know how it should perform and it easily runs from a floppy. You want to be sure the system is up and running before you give up your money. Don't let them switch you to something you may not want.
There are many companies willing and even advocate taking advantage of people, especially older people and the very young so it is wise to be careful. One egregio us example is Prudential who was recently highlighted on a national magazine TV show for the way they teach their agents to cheat people. It probably didn't hurt them very much because they can air many ads saying how wonderful they are. With all those ads people easily forget that one program that pointed out their predatory practices. Sears is another tricky company and most recently Leahman Brothers Investment Bankers who finance a very crooked company who even published training manuals on how to cheat old people of many thousands of dollars.
You have probably noticed the terrific ads by that computer company that has cows on its boxes. That girl's voice and spiel is very convincing but be careful to read the fine print. Somewhere I read that when you have a complaint you have to deal with some overseas branch in order to make it difficult for you.
What's new in batteries? For those of you with notebook computers or video cameras the best way to go if you can't get NiCad batteries is to skip Nickel Metal Hydride and go the Lithium Ion as you get much more value. Both of the latter two are more expensive and difficult and dangerous to charge if you don't do it right. Since we have so many technical people in our club you should know about a new chip that makes it easy to charge Lithium Ion batteries safely. That way you can keep your second battery charging so it is always ready when the other runs low.
It is a complete Li-Ion battery charger in an MSOP-8 package but also available in S0-8 which is easier for amateurs. The chip's number is LTC-1731 made by Linear Technology. You can order a free sample and CDRom on the Internet at www. linear-tech .com or get just the data sheet by adding /go/edn/LTC1731 . You can also get a sample and CD-Rom by calling 800-4Linear but you had better sound like a knowledgeable electronics design engineer. The price is only $1.55 each in thousand quantities for the
less expensive S0-8 package so smaller quantities should be very reasonable. It has all kinds of safety factors built in and only a few easily available external components are needed .
It only charges one or two Lithium Ion cells but that may be fine for most purposes. Remember that the fewer cells your battery has the more reliable it is. The input voltage can be anywhere from 4.5 volts to 15 volts dc which is quite a range. One of the best features of this low dropout charger is that it includes on-chip termination so that the fast charge is terminated safely when the battery is fully charged. The chip itself is only about 3/4" by 1/2" in size and naturally quite thin.
Are you tired of your Computer time being off? RTCs or real time clocks are a big improvement over the days when I had to set the time and date every time I booted the computer. But now we complain when it is five or ten minutes fast or slow because the internally vibrating crystal changes with temperature. It can be as much as four minutes a month. Software corrections work OK until you turn the power off. I hear there are some Internet features that will keep your clock accurate while you are on line but for those who don't get on line much, like Emmett Ingram, there is a brand new chip from Dallas Semiconductor called the DS1501 which has an accuracy of plus or minus one minute per year between zero degrees centigrade and 40 degrees. You can get more information from: dalsemi.com/time or write to 4401 so. Belt-wood Parkway, Dallas, Texas 75244-3292. If you are a regular reader of Electronic Design News magazine you can keep up with these new developments.
What are the best Web sites? Our own Frank Chao's excellent articles are the first places you should look. Many magazines also list what they think are the best but I was disappointed at some of the selections in Forbes magazine. It was their Spring 2000 special issue about the Internet. Overall it appears that most of their selections are well done and they point out the pro's and con's of the sites selected.
Another possible source is the March 15th issue of Bottom Line newsletter. On page 13 it has a list of web sites where they say you can buy at wholesale. For those of us who live in a big city like Los Angeles the bargains may not be so great but for people in small cities and towns it could really help. Some could be real bargains, even for us, but I would be wary of some of their other selections. You might try some of these and let me know.
Porters Camera Store www.porters.com cameres, etc.
Owl Photo Corp. 580-772-3353 photo finishing
Affordable Photocopy www.photocopiers.com
Recycled Software www.recycledsoftware.com Tools www.harborfreight.com
Enfish Onespace is a personal desktop service that integrates information from the Internet with data in your own files (e-mail, document files, and other application files) -- so users can have one convenient place to work with everything. Now you can click on a contact in your address book and instantly see all the information from the web and your own hard drives that are related. Pick a topic and Onespace brings up your bookmarked web pages and your related files. No more searching through bookmarks, mysterious file names, and e-mail folders.
Create your own special searches to track information relative to your current project. Open your Enfish page and everything is always up-to-date.
The Onespace desktop application is free to download (5.5 MB). ZDnet Launchpad is hosting Enfish Onespace beginning May 9 at www.zdnet.com/downloads/lpad/lpad.html. Direct downloading from the Enfish site is available starting May 11 at www.enfish.com With Onespace, Enfish Technology brings users the first product capable of delivering a comprehensive array of personalized information -- from both the Internet and the desktop -right to your fingertips. For more information, please visit http://www.enfish.com.
Enfish's previous flagship product, Tracker Pro, was demonstrated at numerous PC groups and reviewed in UG Newsletters.
Please let me know if you have any questions. My best,French Prescott User Group Liaison for Enfish Technology, Inc. www.enfish.com firstname.lastname@example.org 909-585-2012
By CANDY BAKER
Windows comes with a calculator that can do both regular and scientific calculations. To bring up the calculator, click on Start, Programs, Accessories and then Calculator. Click on View and select Scientific to use the scientific calculator.
Right-click on any of the buttons and click on "What's This?" for an explanation of what a particular button does and the key strokes you can use instead of clicking on the button with your mouse.
When you have completed a calculation and want to use the result in another calculation, store the results of the first calculation in memory by clicking the MS (Memory Store) button. You'll see an M in the gray box above all the "M" buttons when something is stored in memory. When you are ready to insert the result of your last calculation into a new one, click on the MR (Memory Retrieve) button. Clicking the M+ (Memory Plus) button and then on the MR button will add the currently displayed value to the value stored in memory. The MC (Memory Clear) button clears anything stored in memory, and clicking on the MS button overwrites anything stored in memory. To create a Desktop shortcut to the calculator, right-click on the Desktop, select New and click on Shortcut. In the "Command Line" box type "CALC.EXE" (without the quotes) and click on Next. Type "Calc" (without the quotes) and click on Finish. You can drag the Calc shortcut onto the Quick Launch bar just to the right of the Start button.
When you have more than one icon displayed on the task bar, switching between them is easy. Just press the Alt key, and while holding it down, press the Esc key. Each time you press the Esc key, a different item will appear highlighted on the task bar. When you let go of both keys, the task bar item you highlighted appears. Pressing and holding the Alt key, and then pressing the Tab key, will also let you rotate between open applications. Releasing both buttons will open the application displayed on the screen.
See, that wasn't so hard, now was it?
Candy Baker is President of Colony Computer User Gp, Murrieta, CA