Newsletter Comments from SCScompA

Newsletter Date: April 20, 2005

Welcome to my newsletters.

I have given up any hope of getting these newsletters out monthly. How often will be they be "delivered"? Well.... once in awhile.

I hope your 2005 is going well.

The image above, right, is of a Spring-time sky view through the trees. Let' hope that 2005 is "upward" for everyone.

From a home computing point of view --

Many of you may have just started down the path of home computing, and if you are in that set of people: I encourage you to browse earlier SCScompA newsletters if you have not already done so.

All of you: Don't hesitate to send me any comments/questions/concerns that you may have regarding material presented in these newsletters.

Let's begin, as usual, the newsletter with a couple of scanned (I use an Epson Perfection 4180 Photo scanner) comics. (I show these as a sample of scanning material and using the results of the scanning process. The scanned image has been adjusted with PaintShop Pro. For example, the scanned material ends up in the computer with a "grayness" the color of the newspaper and PaintShop Pro is used to "swap" that color with "white". Also, writing on a scanned image is shown. Your home computer system's image-processing application may be used to do similar functions).

Sometimes, We Give In To Salespersons

We Aim At Losing Some Pounds This Year


I wish you success with your use of home computing systems.

Contact me regarding any matter in this newsletter that causes you concern or you want to otherwise discuss.

Dave Shogren
eMail to:


Comments on My Recent Upgrades To My Home Computing Environment

Those of you who follow my newsletters, know that I recently updated my home computing environment.

I discussed the update(s) in some detail in the newsletter of November, 2004.

As a follow-on to that discussion:

    Good things:

  • The faster PC (engine speed) helps, as expected, my use of PaintShop Pro. I use it daily to adjust images that I have moved to my computing system from my digital cameras and, as well, as a result of using the scanner.

  • The second hard disk (having two had disks) is working out well and I am sure is contributing to my "faster computing" environnment.

  • The Epson Perfection 4180 Photo printer is perfect for my needs. Fast. Good quality output. (I scan fabric -- 100% cotton -- for a Website that I manage, plus some scanning of older pictures and other paper-items. I have not found anything that I have been disatisfied with. I am very satisfied with this scanner).

  • I also am very satisfied with the HP Deskjet 5650 printer. I do quite a bit of printing (as a home computer user) including color, and the cartridge-life is down to two months from my previous 3-month average cartridge-life. I wish they made the cartridges 50% larger capacity and kept the price the same or less... I can dream, can't I?

    "Bad" things:

  • McAfee Virusscan. I am very "unhappy" that they packaged "Virusscan Online" (from my, as a user, perspective) and sold it to me as Virusscan. The version that I have (V9) is more cumbersome for me to use/support (I have multiple persons who use my home computing system) and the fact that McAfee did not allow me discuss even basic installation questions by phone (without charge) was not reasonable. I believe software programs that seel to a home computing environment (on the scale of McAfee) needs to have at least a month-or-so "free" phone-in support. McAfee's online support as well as other-such products (AOL, in my case) simply does not "work" in many cases.

    Need I also mention that the promised $30 mail-in rebate, after many months of waiting and a few online and phone interactions has resulted in a so-far $10 check?

    I have seen that some store no longer sell products with mail-in rebates. I can believe that. The mail-in rebate concept is a bad one -- and will not lead to satisfied customers. Lower the initial sale price...

  • AOL V9. I have mixed feelings about this. The product (AOL) has gone down the marketing path more than I need it to (I only want a solid support product as an Internet provider). I need it to work and do not want/need all of its marketing.

    I have had to remove/re-install V9 on each of my systems. After re-install it works better -- but, it (AOL) seems to be overly-quick in degenerating... We see.

    With the above comments said: I am still an AOL user. I am dial (not high speed). I am satisfied (for the last few weeks). Let's hope the product (V9) has settled down.

  • CD/RW. I have a combination DVD/CD-RW drive. Two days ago I "lost" the CD-RW aspect. Plus, sometimes when I create a CD (data disk) I cannot read that CD on some PCs. I assume that is due to a parameter (CD-write speed or something) that I have chosed or defaulted to.

    This (CD-write) topic is something that I need to better understand and document. If any of you have a good CD-RW documentation Website, thank you in advance for giving me a pointer-to.

    I guess that the different software, hardware, standards of this topic are such that CD-RW and how you use "it" in your own situation can be confusing. It is, to me!

    I will probably ask the store where I purchased the initial combo drive to install a "stand alone" CD-RW internal unit -- or purchase a USB external unit -- rather than have the internal combo unit fixed.... even though it is still on warranty. We see. I will let you know in the next newsletter...

Overall, I look forward to 2005 as a home computer user -- and a Web page support person. The environment is interesting/frustrating and, in many ways productive.

Good luck, on your side of this topic!

Wireless Digital Cooking Temperature Monitor

During the holidays, I received a remote (wireless) cooking temperature monitor.

It works well. We do a lot of baking/oven-cooking at our house, and the monitor helps us with the final result. No more "guessing" the lasagne is hot-thrue!

When you begin using the unit, there is (naturally...) some documentation. Of course, I had trouble reading the documentation -- the printing is smaller than I prefer!

One solution that some products allow is that you go to their Web site and once there, download the documentation (often, in PDF format). PDF format is often good -- and from there you can view the documentation online or print the documentation. Sometimes, you can print the documentation larger-sized than on the originally-provided document.

However, another solution (that I prefer) is to scan and then view/print the scanned image large enough for my eyes to comfortably view the print.

With the scanner, you can vary the scanned-image either at scanning time or by using your image processing application (I use PaintShop Pro). You need not view the image online; simply, print the scanned image as large as you prefer.

Another option is to, when scnaning the small-size documentation, use scanner software to modify the scanned image to be text. I use OmniPage Pro from Caere to do this.

Using either approach, I hope that you find a way to read small-written documentation.

This Month's Example of Scanned Material and/or Digital Photographs

In most of my newsletters, I show a few examples of using an HTM-type approach at sharing photographs or other material including scanned images with family/friends.

This month I discuss/show examples of:

  1. Examples of Spring-time Photography Using Digital Cameras

  2. Using a Scanner and some Basic HTM(L) Examples

  3. This month's Great Golf Hole.

To see this month's example click anywhere on the following image, or, on the link below the image.

Link to This Month's Photograph Examples from SCScompA (if you did not click on the above image).


Don't hesitate to contact with any comments regarding the above or for any related discussion.

Miscellaneous Comments Regarding Home Computer Use Matters that Came Up during Nov 2004 -thru- April 2005

  • Miscellaneous Matters.

    America Online -AOL

      I mentioned in a previous (Nov. 2004) newsletter that I was not pleased with AOL's support for my older PCs and dial connections.

      After discussing this (numerous times...) with AOL's tech support, it ends up that (in my experience) it helps AOL (when it has a problem -- and, you will know when that is, by poor dial connection speeds and/or slow AOL service including possible un-scheduled AOL disconnects) -- that you re-install AOL.

      Is this good? No. Do I suggest that you ALWAYS re-install AOL when you have a performance-problem-with-AOL? No..... but, I would re-install. If you are an AOL user, you decide based upon your particular situation. in my case -- I will do the re-install quite quickly, now, rather than waste a lot of time in discussions with AOL's tech support.

      When I re-install AOL:

      • Before I re-install, I locate the AOL Organize file. If the system I am working with is AOL V9 or later, the file is in a directory such as:

        "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\AOL\C_America Online 9.0"
        (The above names may/probably-are different for your system. Have someone you use as a PC-system-adviser/support person assist you in finding the file. You can use the Windows' "Search" (for "organize") for files to help find the location of the AOL organize file.

        Once I find the AOL-organize file, I copy it to a save place on my hard disk.

      • Remove AOL. Simply find the AOL folder/directory and, in turn, click on/open the "uninstall" application. Then, just follow directions.

      • Re-install AOL. Use the CD that you originally used -- or go to some local store that gives away AOL CDs.

      • Start/stop AOL a number of times (five or six... or more) until you do not get any messages from AOL that it is updating the installed software.

      • Locate the just-installed AOL "organize" file and remove it. Copy over to this same directory the previously-saved AOL "organize" file.

      • Run AOL and I have had good success with the service.

        Why do I briefly explain the above? Well... believe it or not, I "like" AOL and want it to perform as best it can. Based upon the past 6-month's experience, I think it will be necessary to go through the above steps once in awhile. Hopefully, not very often.


      What a mess, I am finding, with the McAfee V9 that I installed in October, 2004. The product, now, takes nearly 30-minutes to update itself. Previously, with, versions of McAfee that I was quite satisfied with (V6 -thru- V8) the updating was manageable from a home computer user's point of view.

      V9 (based upon my experience): I doubt if very many users will stick with the product. Yes, ISPs (such as AOL) are providing Virus protection "free". Perhaps, that will be the best solution. I have not used Norton or other products that exist in this matter. I certainly hope that they are better (from a home computer user's perspective) than the experience I have had since Oct. 2004 with McAfee.

      Also... they owe me $20 of a promised mail-in rebate.

    (The following comments are left here, for the convenience of readers who may not have read previous SCSCompA newsletters)

    Obtaining Updates from Microsoft

    As pointed out in my other newsletters, I am a "firm believer" in keeping your home computer system/applications up to date as possible/time-allows, based upon major product-provider's recommendations. Certainly, as relates to Microsoft security.

    I mention the above as a reminder.

    Take the time once a month or so to go to the Microsoft Web page and see what Security updates are available. I, personally, accept all of Microsoft's Security updates and recommend this to home computer users I interact with.

    Yes, it is possible to configure "Windows Update" to go to the Web page automatically. I, simply, prefer to manage this matter myself. It is not a difficult/complex activity, although it would be nice if it is done by a home user on a consistent basis (one person, once a month, allocate a slot of time to investigate at least Microsoft security updates.

    • If you have a need for major updates (such as a Service Pack) don't hesitate to telephone Microsoft or use a Web link from Microsoft's Web page and ask for the major update be normal-mailed to you (assuming it is available on CD by regular mail).

    Some Web pages used this past month:

    The following is a repeat from previous months. I don't have anything particular to add at this time.

    As a reminder, to those of you who are new to my newsletters, I use the following regularly (I am intentionally not making the following information clickable. Just enter the addresses into your Web browser's "go to" field if you wish to go there now. Perhaps use copy/paste from this Web page's following information). In any case, for information, my most-used Web pages includes:

    • Last summer - for USA's top Pro baseball listening. The audio, this year is around $14 USA for the entire season (as compared with $20 a year ago). For me? It is a good investment! I enjoy listening to the Web radio broadcasts of baseball and if you are a baseball fan I can recommend it. I use my laptop in the evening and my primary PC for day games. I listen to about an hour a day of over 100 games a year (primarily the Minnesota Twins' games). Season begins early April each year. is offered for USA's top Pro American-football game listening. The Web radio support for the 2004 games is the same as in 2003, $35 (no fees were charged in 2002). In 2003 I "passed" on that -- but, I opted to pay the $35 fee in 2004. So far, I am satisfied -- but, I still think they overcharge and $15 for the season would have been a correct price for Web radio. We see, as the season progresses, if I believe the $35 was worth it and if I do the same in 2005. So far: I am leading in the OK-for-2005 direction.

      I think the Web radio "broadcasters" have to be careful about the fees they charge. The financial direction they are taking (doubling the price, in many cases each year) does not make sense to me. They need to have customers -- and, it would be interesting to me to see if they are profitable with the approach they take.

      If your Internet connection costs are not time-related, give Web radio a try for your sport of choice -- if the price is within your budget.

    • Search engine of my choice: Primarily, Google:
    • USA Newspaper (Minneapolis Star Tribune):
    • Europe Newspaper in English (Edinburgh Scotland, Scotsman):
    • Europe Newspaper in German (Zurich Switzerland):
    • America Online's support for: "Business News", My Portfolios", "Movies" (Reviews), "Top News".
    • Weather:

    There are, naturally, other Web pages I used as the month went by -- but, the above I use on a daily basis.

    Let me know what Web pages you use on a daily basis.

Maintenance Matters.

(I discuss a couple of maintenance items in the newsletter item above, in case you missed that item - browse, when you get a chance).

This area is a repeat from previous newsletters -- but it is worth continuing to include in current newsletters as well. I apologize for the repetition, but the topic is important.

  • As mentioned earlier in many of my newsletters: I recommend you have the latest vender-recommended software (operating system and primary applications) maintenance and security support. If you need assistance in this topic, don't hesitate to ask someone you trust.

  • Once again, nothing "dramatic" came up this month maintenance-wise on my systems. As a reminder, however:

    Backup any of your user files / folders that contain information that you do not want to recreate. Remember: Your PC and/or its hard disk will break... You will have to, eventually, (probably at the worst possible moment!) recreate your user-data from your backup media.

    Backup your key user-data on external media -- and, once in awhile store that external media "offsite" in case of a major disaster at your home. I realize this sounds extreme -- but, I recommend you take the time for offsite backup of your user data every six months or whenever you feel comfortable doing so. Where? Perhaps at a friend or relative's house that you trust will not be bothered by the material. I even know of some users who place the backup data once a year-or-so in a safe deposit box. Offsite backup is not a casual matter to either ignore nor "manage". However, I recommend you do it if your home computer system involves user data that you do not want to start from scratch recreating.

    • I use a second PC (an older system that I use primarily for saving data) for backing up daily information.
    • I use a combination of CD/RW CDrom disks and ZIP disks as my backup media for external backup.
    • I backup daily any file I work on (such as a Word presentation) more than 1 hour.
    • I backup monthly all my user files/folders.
    • I backup monthly all other family member's user files/folders that are on my PC.

      I remind other family members who use our family PC that if they want more-than-one-month backups of something they are working on, they need to ask me to back up specific files/folders.

  • The latest McAfee update and XDAT (file for use by McAfee in identifying viruses) I have downloaded and installed:
    VirusScan Version 9.1
    Build 9.1.06
    Engine 4.4.00
    DAT 4.0.4473 dated 4/20/2005.

    I recommend that whatever virus protection service you use, you check at least once a month for virus updates.

  • I use Microsoft's WindowsUpdate (see their Web page) on a regular basis and update my three home computer systems security-wise. I recommend you do this as well.

    It takes me about 2-hours per machine each time I do this (I am not on a high-speed Internet connection). I know this sounds like a lot of time (for a home user) -- but, if someone in your home is computer-oriented it is time worth investing.

    I do not update Window's service packs using WindowsUpdate. I use the CD version for Windows 2000 SP4.

  • For Microsoft Internet Explorer, I have installed the latest security fixes from the Microsoft Web pages for IE6.

  • For Windows 2000 I installed SP4. Make certain you check with the Microsoft Web page and the Security section once in awhile. Have someone assist you if you are not interested in this topic but feel you should be more security conscious than you currently now are!

    I recommend if you are running Windows that you upgrade to Internet Explorer V6 if you have not already done so and, in addition, try to keep up with Microsoft's security updates for Internet Explorer V6 as well as for your operating system.

    I also installed the made-available end-August 2002 Microsoft Office application update.

    Have someone assist you if you are not certain how to obtain/install the latest updates, pointed to by the Microsoft home page.

Have a good, maintenance-free time until we talk again.

Contact SCScompA if you have any comments or questions about the above.


FreeCell Game/Deal of the Month

We continue, in our household, doing FreeCell deals from 1-to-32000! We will NOT accomplish this task. We know that. However, as we go along in our for-fun-effort, yet frustration... I will mention once in awhile specific FreeCell deals we find challenging.

Note: If you are running your PC on Windows 98, it is possible you have to specifically install FreeCell. Just install Accessories/Games.

Let me know if these FreeCell games and the number of times we had to restart to solve the deal is about what you find. If you are going to attack deals 1-to-32000 and want to interact with us in that regard, let me know what thousand-or-so you are going to start with. We have completed deals through 3000. Now, we are attacking 3001-to-4000 and I would recommend you start with 4001! At the rate we are going (a little more than 100 deals a month) it will only take us 24 more years to complete the 32000 deals without your help. If you let us know what you have completed, it will take us less time!

I am adding to this column in the newsletter a few "special" games that we found during the month.

  • Deals we completed in one start and view as "easy"-but-still-fun games this month:
    FreeCell Deal Numbers: 3122 (quite easy) and 3124.
  • Other deals we found interesting this month (number of times to restart is after the slash):
    FreeCell Deal Numbers/Restarts that were fun!: 3120/1, 3127/1, 3129/3. Give these a try and see if you can get them completed quicker.
  • Another different type of deal was:
    FreeCell Deal Number: 3123. I reported this earlier as being able to be completed by me in two deals, however I had a reason to try it again and it took 8 deals! It was fun, however. Give it a try and let me know how you did on FreeCell deal 3123.
    Number of times I had to re-start to complete in lost-count moves: 8

  • Deal 598 continues to be the most difficult one, for me, that we found in deals 1-3000. I have met someone who completed this in 1 deal! Congratulations!!!! I have never completed it.

    Deal 1941 has become "famous" to me. If you have not tried it, give it a try and let me know how many tries it takes you to complete it.

  • Deal 1123 is the easiest deal, in our opinion, that we have found so far, with 2018 being second-easiest in our opinion. Other very easy deals in our experience are: 2597, 3013, 3046

Let me know how YOU do!

If you want to see our list of FreeCell Deals 1-thru-what we are working on now and our comments on how many times we had to restart the deal to find a solution, let me know -- or click on: SCScompA FreeCell Table of Completed Deals

To contact me about anything on this Web page, please: send mail to:

Or send snail-mail to:

P.O. Box 58223
Raleigh NC 27658


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