Newsletter Comments from SCScompA

Newsletter Date: December 31, 2003

Welcome to my newsletters.

I wish you all a safe/peaceful start to 2004. The small thing peaking out of the cap (above figure) is indicative of how some of us feel as we head into the year. We look cautious -- but, at the same time: look forward to a new start.

Have a GREAT year, with some smiles.

(The image, above, was scanned from a "Smithsonian" card, Original Art by Barbara Mitchell, Image by Design)

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 a Microtek ScanMaker V6upl) 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).

A Good Idea!

Sometimes, others in the house have very good ideas!

Always Putting Himself Down

I think Hagar does the best job that he can. He is not too bad!


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:


An Update on How I Move Images From Digital Camera to my Laptop/PC

Some of you are no doubt thinking, after reading the above title: "Who cares, how you get your images from your digital camera to your laptop/PC?".

That is a fair thought! However, in past newsletters I discussed this topic and have had sufficient feedback/comments to make me update the matter.

The situation is: We have some digital pictures in our camera. How, easily, to get them to the PC?

Well, our camera came with a cable (probably a USB cable). Just connect it to the PC. That should do it, correct?

Yes -- that may be the end of the story (from this newsletter item's point of view).

  • If the camera came with an application that you are happy with and you installed the application on your system, then you very well may be a happy camper!

    What application? Some cameras come with PhotoShop, for example. Assuming you installed PhotoShop (or, whatever came with the camera) it will (probably) read very easily the camera using the cable connection (probably a USB connection), place the read-photos onto your system's hard disk, and allow you to do a number of functions including removing them from the camera and offering you photo-editing, printing, and so on.

    Your photos are on the hard disk and you could choose to process the photos with some other application. For example, PaintShop Pro or a slide-show application other-than what came with your camera, such as Camedia or JASC PhotoAlbum (discussed briefly in our October 2003 newsletter).

    If you are satisfied: Great. End of story.

However, in my case, I have reasons to simply want the photos on the laptop/PC and would like to do so on multiple computer systems without connecting a cable to the camera.

To do so, I choose to remove from the camera the "card" that is holding the images. I open the spot in the camera where the card is located and, now, the card is available for my use.

I place the camera's card into the "holder" (in this case, a Camedia Floppy Disk - type unit).

Now, I place the floppy-disk type holder into the laptop/PC's floppy disk drive (previously, I installed the software from Olympus and Camedia to support the floppy disk holder in place of a normal floppy disk) and I can read the camera's folder as I read/write any floppy disk.

Camera Card to Floppy Holder in System

Previously-installed Holder software supports the Holder as a Floppy. Read/write as normally would a floppy disk.

After finished, the pictures are on the hard disk (assuming you copied them to it!) and available for any application.

OK! The above approach served me fine, on multiple PCs and laptops, for the past four years.

However, some factors cause me to pay attention to presently-available technology:

  • The above floppy holder-to-hard was read at quite slow rate. For my camera (1.3 megapixels) my camera card holds about 36 pictures max. Each picture (HQ-mode) is about 200Kb in size. 36 pictures times 200Kb is about 7 Meg. Reading that amount of data at floppydisk rate meant that ten-to-15 minutes were needed to copy/delete-from-the-camera's-card the photos.

    I lived with this approach for four years.

  • If a family member or friend brought a camera to my house and the camera was not the same technology card-wise (Camedia Flashmedia floppy) I could not process their data without installing support for their card and cable connection.

    This has started to happen, more each year. USB has solved some of the cable-connection challenges -- but, still, the different approaches for the camera card is an ongoing matter that is not easily met by "floppy disk" approaches.

One solution would be, simply, to ask them to install software that supports, via a USB cable, many different camera types. There is such software, naturally! For example, PaintShop Pro -- and I use PaintShop Pro on each of my machines. However, I would have to make sure that I have the correct USB cable connection. Again, this is a solvable problem.

However, I like the previously-mentioned floppy-disk type approach. So, as the year went on I saw references to other "card reader" type devices than I have been using for four years -- and I chose Crucial Technology's "Crucial Card Reader". (Note: Some PC systems are now being sold with the "floppy disk" supporting multiple camera card types. This is fine -- for one PC.)

$35 USA including shipping (ordered through their Web page).

The unit supports multiple type camera cards -- including mine! -- although I have not yet used it with newer-type camera type cards. We see, if the unit I bought has the most commonly supported cards. Perhaps. I will find out, as 2004 moves forward.

Camera Card to Crucial Card Reader and, then, to the System

Previously-installed software supports the USB and each Crucial slot as an external hard disk. Read/write as normally would an external hard disk. (Note: As with any external disk - when erasing data do NOT remove the card from its slot until a few seconds after closing the external hard disk. Acting too fast in this regard may result in loss of data until you format the external hard disk.)

After finished, the pictures are on the system's hard disk (assuming you copied them to it!) and available for any application.

The above works great! The USB cable and the Crucial Card Reader is easily moved from system to system (including my laptop) and will be easy to carry when travelling.

Installation was easy and required no special effort/download (Windows 2000 Pro SP4 installed).

Result of the Crucial Card Reader with my Flashmedia? I now process the 36 images in seconds rather than in 10-to-15 minutes.


I have hopes that the multiple slots will support my family/guest's camera card. We see.... soon.

I wish you continued, fun, interesting processing of your digital camera's images.

I repeat from an earlier comment: If you are happy with your cable-from-camera-to-your-PC approach, OK! Then, you do not need the Crucial Card Reader type of solution.

What PC-System I Would Have Ordered end-2003

If you have been following my newsletters over the years, you know that I adhere to the $3,000 per PC-system rule. What that says is: If you budget $3,000 and purchase a PC-system in that price range you will be happy/comfortable for years (I am in the 5th year of my primary PC system).

Often, at end-of-year time, I see what kind of system I would get if I needed one.

Yes, you can certainly get a PC and a PC-system for less than $3,000. However, in my opinion, when you purchase something for the $3,000 budget (including software for the home computing environment, a printer, a scanner and home-network-connection equipment if necessary) -- you will end up with around $3,000!

Two PC solutions that I would have purchased at end 2003

One from Dell and one from a local PC company.

PC System from Dell

December 27, 2003

Dell Dimension 8300


Pentium® 4 Processor at 2.80GHz w/800MHz front side bus/ HT Technology

Operating System:
Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional

512MB Dual Channel DDR SDRAM at 400MHz (2x256M) *

Hard Drive:
80GB Ultra ATA/100 Hard Drive (7200 RPM)

2nd Hard Drive:
80GB Ultra ATA/100 Hard Drive (7200RPM)

Floppy Drive and Additional Storage Devices:
3.5 in Floppy Drive

CD or DVD Drive:
Dual Drives: 16x DVD-ROM Drive + FREE UPGRADE! 48x CD-RW Drive

Dell ® Quietkey ® Keyboard

Dell® 2-button scroll mouse

19 in (18.0 in viewable) M992 CRT Monitor **

Video Card:
New 128MB DDR GeForce FX 5200 Graphics Card with TV-Out and DVI

Sound Card:
Sound Blaster Audigy™2 (D) Card w/DVD Audio and Dolby 5.1 capability

Dell Media Experience

Altec Lansing® ADA745 4.1 Surround Sound Speakers w/ Subwoofer

56K PCI Telephony Modem

Network Interface:
Integrated Intel® PRO 10/100 Ethernet

Software Bundles:
Microsoft Worksuite® including Money® ***

Security Software:
Dell Security Center by McAfee w/ VirusScan, Firewall and Privacy, 90-day

Limited Warranty, Services and Support Options:
3 Year Limited Warranty plus 3 Year At-Home Service

Surge Protectors:
Belkin SurgeMaster 7-Outlet
APC Back-UPS ES 725 - Battery Backup

PC System from Intrex, Raleigh NC USA

December 27, 2003

Customized Intrex System: PC-PI


Intel Pentium 4 2.6GHz Retail Box with Fan, HT, 800MHz FSB, Socket 478
(For the Motherboard and Case, see the info at end of this list)

Operating System:
Microsoft Windows XP Professional Edition, OEM

512MB DDR400 Memory via 2x 256MB modules *

Floppy Drive, 3.5" 1.44MB
2 Seagate 80GB SATA Hard Drives, w/power adapter KIT

Optical Drives:
LG 48x24x48+16 IDE combo CD-RW & DVD, Burning software included

Network / Modem:
USRobotics 56k v.92 PCI Internal Winmodem
3COM 3C905 10/100 PCI Network Card

Input Devices:
Microsoft Wheel Optical Mouse, 3-Button with Scroll, USB/PS2
Multimedia Keyboard, PS/2

19" (18"vis) .26dp 1600x1200 CRT Monitor **
Gainward GeForce FX5200 128MB DDR AGP, TVout, Dual Display

Creative Labs Inspire 5200 Dolby 5.1 Speakers, 6-piece w/ Subwoofer, 47W RMS
Creative Labs SoundBlaster Audigy2 ZS 7.1

Additional Software:
Microsoft Works Suite, OEM, includes Word ***
Computer Associates eTrust Antivirus, Free Signature Updates

Warranty / Internet:
Lifetime Labor, one year parts, Intrex limited hardware warranty

Motherboard and Processor:
Asus P4P800-Deluxe Intel 865PE, Audio, Gig LAN, SATA, RAID,USB2, 1394, DDR400 CPI-P42600C

Intrex 601 Tower ATX Case, Front USB/Firewire, Side Fan, no Power Supply FAC-80
80mm Case Fan, Ball-Bearing
450W UNEEC ATX Power Supply, Dual Fan

UDMA33 IDE Ribbon Cable, 18"
APC BE725BB 725VA UPS, 8 outlets w/ Broadband

I am sure that either of the options would be fine for my home computing environment for the next four years or so. I am lucky that my current five-year-old system(s) remain adequate for me: However, certainly, the above systems would be faster/etc.!

A few comments about the above:

  • * I would consider, if budget OK, getting 1000Mb memory rather than 512Mb.

  • ** I know that some persons would opt for a flat-panel display. I, personally, would get the above (put the extra cost into memory or something system-wise) as space is not a concern for my working environment.

  • *** Office software -- I have Office 2000 and it works fine. If I was going to buy an upgrade, it would be about $150 for an Office version that contains PowerPoint.

As you see, the above systems are less than $2,000. However, adding: (Assuming costs as shown)

  • Printer - $150-200
  • Scanner - $100-$150
  • Possible Office Software upgrade - $150-$250
  • Possible Photo Processing Software upgrade - $50-$100
  • Possible home finance/tax application, games, other software budget of $100 per year
  • Tax
  • Shipping

We can see how I continue to hold that the $3,000 every four-five-years still holds true as a budget-planning factor.

Which of the systems would I have chosen? Probably the Intrex system, as I could interact directly with the PC people at the store/service center and the Intrex company has been in Raleigh for years. Would the Dell solution be OK? Yes - and, I have worked with home computer people over the years who are quite satisfied with Dell and/or Gateway. I, just, have had good interactions with the local PC store (Intrex) and would have chosen them at end-2003.

If you need a PC home computing system as 2004 starts -- print off the above and stop by your local computer company or call Dell or Gateway and see what they come up with that matches the above.

Good luck and good home computing!

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. A selection of photos taken in 2003.

    Just a selection to share as examples of a home computing user's activities.

  2. 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.

(I also have copied from images from the official Web sites (such as and point to my examples in the above linked-to Web page. If you are interested in what I select over the next couple of months, OK. Make sure, however, you rely on the offical Web sites for current, accurate, information and images!).

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 in November-December 2003

  • Miscellaneous Matters.

    No special comments this month! Have a good 2004.

    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 this month include:

    • for USA's top Pro baseball listening. The audio, this year, was around $20 USA for the entire season (as compared with $13 a year ago). For me? It was 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).

    • for USA's top Pro American-football game listening. I listen to the Minnesota Vikings each time they play and I am on the Web. The Web radio support for the games (no fees were charged in 2002) was reliable and much enjoyed. 2003's games will be charged $35 for the season. I will "pass" on that. If they had charged $15 I would have done it.

      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.

    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 ZIP disk 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 XDAT (file for use by McAfee in identifying viruses) I have downloaded and installed use virus definitions 4.0.4312 dated 12/31/2003.

      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: 2897, 2898, 2900, 2930 (Have to start it a certain way to be easy), 2981, 2983, and 3000 had no restarts but were interesting.
  • Other deals we found interesting this month (number of times to restart is in parentheses):
    FreeCell Deal Numbers/Restarts that were fun!: 2909/1, 2925-thru-27/1, 2958/2, 2976/2, 3008/2, 2979/3. Give these a try and see if you can get them completed quicker.
  • Another different type of deal was:
    FreeCell Deal Number: 3015.
    Number of times I had to re-start to complete in lost-count moves: 5

  • Deal 598 continues to be the most difficult one we found in deals 1-2000. 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

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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