Newsletter Comments from SCScompA

Newsletter Date: August 8, 2007

Welcome to my as-time-allows' newsletters.

A number of months have passed since I last "published" a newsletter. I have given up any hope of getting these newsletters out monthly. How often will be they be "delivered"? Well.... once in awhile.

The image, above right, contains a picture of a home computing environment that I discuss later on in this newsletter.

If you are in the Northern Hemisphere (as are we) I hope Summer is bringing some good times and, perhaps, even a vacation or two.

In any case, as I mentioned above, I will once-in-while put in this Web space some examples/thoughts regarding home computing matters that I feel are worth taking some time to document. We will see how often this happens, as time moves forward.

From a home computing point of view --

Some 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).

Two Older-Scanned Comics

I scanned these a few years and just got around to showing the scanned results.


We all went -- and, are going through -- a learning curve.

Selling Takes Many Forms

Although today's walky-talkies are "better" -- I am sure some of us would buy an older style!


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:


Moving to High-Speed Internet Connection

The above title is somewhat of an overstatement. In reality, I will comment simply on my recent (3-month's ago) experience with moving from dialup Internet connection to an "always-connected; home computing" environment.

Some background:

  • I had been dialup since the beginning of my home computing - Internet experience; about 1997. I kept that connection until May, 2007. During that time I used the Web a lot; nearly every day, for hours a day. I had little reason to move to a higher-than dialup connection speed; even though I regularly uploaded information/pictures for my own Websites and for Websites that I manage for other people/groups. Naturally, as a Web user, I downloaded information each time I used the Web. I did not, on a daily basis, download large files (for example music or video; I, simply, had no reason do such). I did download, regularly, updates to primary applications that I use (Microsoft Windows, and COREL PaintShop Pro).

    Dialup served its purposes for me. In fact: I was a "happy" Web user in the dialup environment.

  • During the time (since about 1997) I was an AOL user as a (major) part of my home computing, dialup use of the Web. AOL served my purpose. It handled eMail fine, took care of archiving my received/sent eMail -- and, I used some of their applications (such as Portfolio support and how they presented daily news reports. I ignored the advertising emphasis that AOL steadily increased as time went on. I even survived the negatives that came along with their imbedded, modified Web browser and their slowness in responding to important changes that came up with home users as they moved to newer operating systems (for example, in my case, Windows 2000 Pro; in other user's case, an Apple OS environment). Eventually, AOL ran well on Windows 2000 Pro; I assume it ran well on Apple platforms.

    AOL was sufficient for my use. In fact, I would say: "I was a "happy" user of AOL.

  • Eventually, what happened in my case (and, I suspect in other home user's situations): Prices for Web-access high(er)-speed than dialup dropped to the point that "high speed" options came into consideration -- and, other matters such as improved Web browsers "outside" of AOL and such "free" eMail support by Web applications such as Yahoo and Google: AOL became irrelevant as a home computing application. AOL was/is still useable. However, its over-emphasis on advertising just came to be too much for my home computing use. When AOL started to modify my SENT eMails with advertising comments -- without my approval nor without offering me an option to turn off the feature: I finally started looking to see what I could do without high-cost and without major changes in my home computing environment.

    AOL eventually, even, offered itself as FREE. Even the dialup support was FREE; although I selected the "supported" cost of 1/2-per-month of what I was originally paying. I was willing to pay... just, when they began putting advertising into my SENT eMails, they tipped the scale of options to the direction away-from AOL.

  • I don't want this newsletter to be a long discussion of the many offerings/capabilities that exist -- so, I try to keep this discussion short:

    • I could have chosen Cable connection to my home PC. My home is located such that was an option. I chose to not do this. Why not? A few reasons, including support from the cable provider (I called them to inquire about a couple of matters and, just, was not impressed. Nothing particular -- and, I know many home computing users are happy with their high-speed cable connection). I, just, decided to look elsewhere.

    • My local home telephone company began to offer DSL support. I searched the Web for some feedback/opinions about DSL as compared with cable -- and (yes, I know: You can not always "trust" Web reviews!) I opted for DSL.

      I had a previously-"dedicated"-as-use-for-my-dialup connection, second phone line.

      I could remove this monthly-cost (for the second line) and "logically" apply this no-longer-used-monthly-cost to the increased cost of DSL. Yes, I only have (logically) one telephone line into the house, now -- but, that is fine with DSL.

    My resultant home computing environment:

    • Connection to the Web: DSL (phone line).

      Including a wireless router that is used by my laptop throughout my home (more on this, later) as well as by my second workstation PC.

    • eMail: I use Microsoft's Outlook Express. A number of other possibilities exist. I, just, happen to use Outlook Express.
    • Web Browsing: I use Mozilla Firefox. Again, a number of other possibilities exist. So far, I am pleased with Firefox.

    The above replace my AOL-Dialup support as used for the previous ten years or so.

  • The desktop showing the two primary Web-related applications (Firefox and Outlook Express):

    Yes, if you look around the above, you will see other applications' pointers that I use. For example, AOL. I run AOL "in the background" once in awhile simply to check eMail that may have come in using eMail addresses that I still have for there; I have not yet alerted everyone to the fact that I no longer use AOL as my primary eMail server.

  • My home computing systems showing the "major players" in my home computing / Web/eMail environment:

    Ok.... You see the above -- but, "Who are those guys?"

    We take a closer look, below.

    • The figure shown on the left shows the names of the players; the figure on the right show how they are connected in my case.

    One of the players in this environment include the telephone company, located some distance from my house. How far? Well.... I don't care. That is their business. However, I mention this as "how far" in the case of DSL support is a major reason why some homes may not have DSL support. In my case, this support arrived in my neighborhood in April/May 2007.

    How does BellSouth get to the Internet (for me?). I don't care! That is why I have their service. They are the "server" for me.

    The DSL service provided a DSL modem/router. (Well, I had to pay something for it; however, BellSouth gave a full rebate for the cost. Most providers will do the same.) I naturally had, already, a phone-line wall-connection.

    I can get to the DSL-connected network using the now-installed wireless connection (handled by the BellSouth-provided DSL modem/router) or, I can use my previously-installed Ethernet cables/hub. I could, if I wished to, install a wireless hardware card into my second PC and go "fully wireless"; but, I have no reason to do this.

    I did have to purchase/install a wireless care into my laptop; it is an older model and when I purchased the laptop it came without wireless support. Most new laptops offer this support as part of their sale.

  • Some key software that I needed to install/implement include:

    Internet security. Naturally, I had previously-installed products for this. I chose to use the support from BellSouth and their DSL product. The product was offered at a reasonable price ($5 per month for up to four PCs) and so far I have had no reason to regret this choice. The "four PC" support made this decision an easy one for my case.

    The primary product need was the Firewall support (NEVER run your PC without at least some firewall). The other products are OK; and, yes, I Virus Check on a regular basis.

    I will not go into this topic as part of this newsletter; we have discussed the topic(s) of security in previous newsletters and, sometime in the future, we re-address the matter.

  • eMail support. As I was dropping AOL (America Online) as my primary eMail support, I needed something on my PC systems to support eMail.

    I chose Microsoft Outlook Express. I could use the other primary Microsoft eMail application: "Outlook" (a different product than Outlook Express) or any eMail application.

    I also could use the becoming-more-popular-each-day Web-Mail applications offered by Google, Yahoo, etc. -- or, even, from BellSouth or other servers.

    We will talk about this in some future newsletter. I, just, happen to use Outlook Express as my primary support.

  • Web browsing support. Again, as I was dropping AOL (America Online) as my primary "Web" support, I needed something on my PC systems to access the Web.

    I chose Firefox. From Mozilla (an open-source code group; see their Web page by searching on "What is Firefox" for information and access to the product if you are not already using it).

    I could have, obviously, used Microsoft's Internet Explorer or chosen some other Web browser. I, just, chose Firefox. There are many very good reviews/"how to use" Firefox available to you (again: just search on, for example, "How to use Firefox".

The purpose of the above discussion was, simply, to prepare for later-on discussions between newly-becoming-non-AOL users or other home computer oriented users who are heading down a path that may be similar to the above.

I wish you good success/use of home computing.

The "New" AOL - Late 2006 / First Half 2007

I wrote this newsletter section some time ago (early 2007).

Perhaps I should not include it here -- as I no longer use AOL other than as an eMail server for "old" eMail IDs that may some friends/Web users/etc. may have for me. However, some of you may be AOL users and, to those, I mention the following.

If you are not interested a few comments regarding the topic mentioned in the title of this newsletter item: Just move-on past the item and ignore this item.

Thank you for your patience.

  • I have been an America Online user for many years; since about 1997 if I remember correctly.

    I am "leaving" the world of AOL, but before I do that I wanted to make a few comments regarding the "New" AOL.

    AOL's Startup is quite the same as earlier AOLs --
    With the exception that now AOL uses it more
    for advertising than it did in the past.

    AOL's main (Welcome) panel is also similar to earlier AOLs --
    With the exception that now AOL uses it A LOT more
    for advertising than it did in the past.

    OK -- Perhaps you get the idea? I am "leaving AOL" due to their, in my opinion - over emphasis with advertising on panels that I use a lot.

    Now: I realise that AOL changed to be free/zero-financial-cost. Similar, in that regard, to other-such major Web destinations such as Yahoo.

    AOL believes that it needs this much advertising. Well -- my advice would have been: Just give the Web user an option: Pay a reasonable cost for connection and, then, allow for no/some/user-selected advertising.

    I wonder how many users would have stayed with AOL and Cable connection at, for example, $30 USA per month with no or "very little" advertising -- and what the revenue amount would have been as compared with having a lot of advertising and losing everyday users?

    However, AOL did not pay attention to my advice. Surprise, huh? I did contact them...

    The following three panels are off of the earlier-shown (above) AOL Welcome Panel.

    All I wanted was Web connection and eMail. I used a couple of the options AOL presented to me -- but, generally could have used those options through any Web page.

    All I wanted was Web connection at a reasonable cost.

    Each of the "information" on these panels (99% of which I did not want) requires not only Web resources -- but, my PC's resources. I did not appreciate/need AOL using my precious resources... without my wanting 99% of what they offered to me.

    AOL did allow me to modify the Welcome screen to be such as the following. This, perhaps, would be close to what I wanted (advertising and resource-wise).

    However, AOL required me to do this each-and-every-time I signed on. A shame....

  • The final decision-maker for me (as relates to "Should I keep using AOL?") was when AOL started filling their eMail panels with advertising -- and, in addition: Modified my sent eMails with advertising! I know that some eMail services (mostly Web-based) do this -- but I, simply, did not appreciate nor need AOL using my sent-emails as an advertising media.

    Yes, I contacted AOL a number of times to see if there was an option that I could "turn off" to their modifying my sent-eMails. The answer? "No".

    So: I "left" AOL after many years of use.

    The primary eMail panel is "filled" with advertising. Simply, information that I don't want -- I want to see the eMail waiting for service!

    When viewing an eMail -- the user sees a low percentage of actual data. The advertising dominates.

    When sending an eMail, AOL appends advertising to the sent message. A shame....

Summary: Advertising, in, for America Online. My use of AOL? Ending/ended.

In an upcoming newsletter I will discuss a few of the various approaches that are available for eMail, and which approach I now use.

Good luck with your use of eMail as part of your home computing experience.

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. Selected pictures taken during a vacation trip To Scotland, April 2007.
  2. An early look (during construction of) The Castle Course, St. Andrews Links Trust, Scotland.
  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 October 2006 thru August 2007

No Comments at this time. This section will be updated as time allows.

(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).

Replacing Windows' Versions

As those of you who are regular readers of my Web newsletter know, I continue to use Windows 2000 Professional. The operating system has served me well, although due to some applications now requiring Microsoft XP or Vista, I can see the handwriting on the wall that I will need to convert to one of these versions in the future. Up until now, I run a dual-boot system (Windows 2000 on one side, XP on the other) for testing/using specific applications. I do not recommend this approach as a "regular" home computer user.

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:

  • for USA's top Pro baseball listening. The audio cost of $15 USA for the entire season is fair, in my opinion. 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 2007 games was the same as in 2003/4/5/6, $35 (no fees were charged in 2002). I "passed" on that this season. I think they overcharge and $15 for the season would have been a correct price for Web radio.

    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):
  • Overall World 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 and DVD/RW 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.

  • I use the BellSouth Internet Security suite of applications and allow that to be automatically updated.

    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 started with 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 use Mozilla Firefox as my primary Web browser. I allow Firefox to check for updates -- but, I require Firefox to "ask" me prior to doing any update.

    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: 3400, 3424, 3456, 3274.
  • Other deals we found interesting this month (number of times to restart is after the slash):
    FreeCell Deal Numbers/Restarts that were fun!: 3360/1,3403/1,3425/2,3434/4, and 3431/6. Give these a try and see if you can get them completed quicker.
  • Another different type of deal was:
    FreeCell Deal Number: 3393.
    Number of times I had to re-start to complete in lost-count moves: 7

  • 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, 3464

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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