Newsletter Comments from SCScompA

Newsletter Date: February 1, 2000

It snowed... a lot... in Raleigh in January, 2000. Normally we get (on an average) two "snow days" in Raleigh per winter, with each of those snow days being a slight dusting. This year, we ended up with about 7" of snow one week -- and, a record 17" or more the next week. No golf for those of us in Raleigh for about 3-weeks.

Oh, well, soon it will be Spring in this part of the world!

The following comments about program-use and other matters are all when I used Windows 2000 on the PC. I mention this, since many of you know I am primarily a Windows NT user with occasional use of Windows 98. I have been using an early version of Windows 2000 (planned general availability of Windows 2000 is February 17, 2000) and as of now will continue to use it as my primary PC operating system.

When necessary, I re-boot my PC and bring up Windows 98 or Windows NT. However, in my applications and environment, this re-booting due to an application or device not working on Windows 2000 has been rare.

I will mention, in my labs and newsletters when something comes up which is Windows 2000, Windows NT, or Windows 98 specific. Also, any labs or documents I distribute will be tested on Windows 98, since many of you are users of Windows 98.

If this is of a concern to you (I don't think it SHOULD be a concern to you, what PC operating system I use! -- but, if it does concern you...) don't hesitate to contact me.

Dave Shogren
eMail to:


Use of a PC-fax Program

Last month I mentioned that we use HotFax as a PC-fax program. A few additional comments regarding my PCs and fax:

This past month, I had a few requests/reasons to use a fax. Both "incoming" (to me) and "outgoing" (to someone else). I don't know how many of you are very often asked "Do you have a fax number" or told "Please send me a fax". However, since I was asked and told this a few times this past month, I gave PC-faxing a try and it was painless.

Although I assume there are a number of PC fax programs and PC fax approaches available, I use HotFax Version 4.0 by Smith Micro Software. I had purchased HotFax a couple of years ago and had not had a reason to use it. When I started using it sometime in December, 1999, I contacted Smith Micro and received an update for their current-in-December version (Version 4.0).

It installed easily (on all of my operating systems: Windows 2000, Windows NT, and Windows 98). It is very user-friendly and has worked fine since it was installed.

I share the same telephone line for the fax and for my primary Internet connection -- and, for my "office" phone number. So, the phone line is quite busy... but, my incoming fax traffic is quite small up until now.

I requested a different-ring fax telephone number on the line. The charge for this in the Raleigh area is about $3.50 per month. My office telephone number rings with one-ring (beep) and the fax number rings with two-rings (beep-slight-pause-beep).

HotFax allows for this "distinguishing ring" and ignores the one-ring, only picking up on the two-ring calls. This is convenient. I did have to set the number of rings on my answering machine to be higher than the number of rings I set for HotFax to pick up the call; my answering machine does not distinguish between the number of beeps. I assume that newer answering machines would be better in this regard.

When HotFax is installed, it defines a "dummy/non-existent-physically" printer that the HotFax application reads when printed-to.

To write a fax, all that is necessary is to write it into an application (I use Microsoft Word) and have that application write to the HotFax-defined printer. It is a very easy approach.

HotFax allows for very-easy-to-be-defined-once fax cover pages and provides an easy-to-use interface for sending and viewing faxes that can be printed for hardcopy if necessary. HotFax also provides assistance with fax phone books and other features to make it easy to use. I have not looked into "importing" numbers into the HotFax phone book; I explicitly enter each number into the phone book. It may be possible to automate this function with standard HotFax support (I have not checked their Help support).

Windows 2000 provides an internal fax program. I have not (yet) used it, since I had HotFax already on my other systems and am comfortable with using HotFax.

Operationally, I handle the PC-fax program this way:

  1. I keep the PC turned on 24-hours, with the PC-fax program active in the background.
    The HotFax icon is minimized to not be in the foreground of the screen display when someone is using the PC.
  2. HotFax sits in the background and waits for the phone to ring. It ignores the "single beep" calls (as I mentioned, above) and picks up the call after the fourth ring of "two beep" calls. Once the fax has been answered, HotFax puts a comment out on its user-interface panel and the fax is then easily accessed with HotFax standard (graphical) support panels.
  3. I share the modem for Internet access (America Online, Netscape, and Microsoft Internet Explorer). When HotFax is listening for the phone to ring, it has opened a Windows/hardware resource that conflicts with the America Online dialer. This contention does not (on my system) occur with the AT&T dialer.

    I take HotFax down if using the America Online dialer and bring HotFax back up after I have completed using the America Online dialer.

    When I am using the AT&T dialer, this "taking down" and "bringing back up" of HotFax is not necessary. However, HotFax will NOT be answering any calls/incoming faxes when I am using the Internet: since the telephone line for Internet and for fax is the same one.

    Let me know if you use a PC-fax and if you have a fax program you are happy with other-than HotFax.

    If fax was my primary business-input (I know that some users are heavily dependant upon fax) I would (probably....) recommend a simpler solution for the business fax than PC-fax. If a non-PC standard fax works: Terrific! Keep using it. However, if you do NOT have or use a fax, currently, and you have a PC: I can recommend giving something like HotFax a try.

Applications I Use on Windows 2000

I know we have discussed these over the past two newsletters. However, the following is an updated list:
  • Interconnected-PC applications for sharing data and our printer.
  • Reflection FTP support and some standard Microsoft-provided support for FTP (file transfer).

    We use an Ethernet cable environment for our inter-computer connections.

  • Microsoft Word.
  • JASC PaintShop Pro.
  • Microsoft WordPad.
  • Netscape.
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer.
  • America Online.
  • Freelance Organizer.
  • Freelance Graphics.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint.
  • Smith Micro HotFax.
  • DeLorme Street Atlas USA.
  • DeLorme Phone Search USA.
  • Microsoft AutoRoute Express Europe 98. (Map, trip-route program).
  • Microtek ScanMaker E3 product and software support.
  • Caere Corporation's Omnipage support for scanning printed data (OCR-type information).
  • Handicalc Performance Tracker (Golf score reporting and handicap program). Note: We had to update to their latest release to make use of their program in year 2000. Their latest version seems to work fine.
  • Photos. We use and access photos in two ways. One, a scanner of professionally developed photo/prints. Secondly, a digital camera.
  • Viewing photos or other-such information or documents. I use basic HTML tags to prepare a viewing/"presentation" as part of a family/friend's review of what we are working on (such as a summary of an evening's entertainment or a recent vacation/trip).
  • Wine cellar contents. We have a home wine cellar and we use an "old" program that still works well: WineWin.
  • Games -- Primarily, card games on a PC. Freecell, Sierra Hoyle Card Games (primarily Hearts and Cribbage in my case).
  • Game: Bridge Baron.
  • Computer golf using Links LS 99.

If you want to see the SCScompA lab exercise for any particular lab exercises related to the above, send me a message or give me a call. Once you have the lab exercise and make use of the lab exercise, you send me $10 USA. Once that has happened, you may contact SCScompA for eMail support for lab exercise questions that might come up.

All lab exercises for the above applications, documentation, and support is for your running on Windows 98, Windows NT or Windows 2000.

If you want to have SCScompA work directly with you (up to 3 family members at a time) and you are in the Raleigh NC area, the cost is $25 USA per hour.

If you want assistance in purchasing a home PC for using applications such as the above and getting the PC set up in your home, SCScompA will assist you in this matter. Normal charge for this service is $150 USA. However, SCScompA and you will agree on the exact charge prior to the assistance.

Scanning Text Data

This month, I had occasion to scan text. Earlier in this newsletter I mentioned that I wanted to test/use PC-fax. As part of that work I scanned text and included the scanned text in a fax sent to a person who did not have access to eMail (he only had a fax machine at the time I wanted to discuss something with him).

I could scan the data in two ways:

  1. As a "picture".
  2. As text.

To see the scanned picture followed by an example of the scanned text, click on:
An Example of Scanned Text Data from SCScompA.

Let me know if you have many occasions to scan text and, if so, what application you use to do this.


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. Let me know if this Freecell game 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. For now, we are attacking 1-to-1000 and I would recommend you start with 1001!

  • Freecell Deals Number: 371-to-377.

    Give a try at doing the games during a "timed" period. During our work with Freecell deals 1-to-400, I ran across these deals which came in a row. If you complete the deals 371-to-377, keep track of how long it takes you to complete the deals. I was hoping to complete these games within a 1-hour time period -- but, no luck. Let me know how long it takes for you to complete deals 371-to-377.

    Number of moves for me to complete the above games: Again, I lost count....
    Number of times I had to re-start to complete in lost-count moves: Too many to report. The above was a time-limit challenge and not a number-of-deals-lost challenge.

    Deal 178 continues to be the most difficult one we found in deals 1-400.

Let me know how YOU do!

If you want (at no charge) a list of Freecell Deals 1-thru-400 and our comments on how many times we had to restart the deal to find a solution, let me know.

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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