Newsletter Comments from SCScompA
Newsletter Date: June 1, 2001
Welcome to my monthly newsletters. The May newsletter had been late due to April/May travel getting in the way the first week of May -- so, I delayed the June newsletter until now. If you had visited this page early-May and missed the completed May newsletter, please take a look at it in its final format when you have a chance.
June is starting out to be a terrific weather-month here in Raleigh: Not much rain, not too much heat (so far, only a couple of days in the 90-deg. F. temperature range), and no hurricanes (yet!). Families are on their summer-vacation trips or soon heading in that direction -- and I hope you all have time to use your laptop or in some way write a journal of your June-thru-August family activities. Have a good time -- and, document your activities for discussions/sharing with other family/friends!
I encourage you to browse earlier SCScompA newsletters if you have not already done so, and to send me any comments/questions/concerns that you may have regarding material presented in these newsletters.
First, another couple of comics from this month. The example I show this month was two separate comics scanned and put into one image with a couple of text comments added using an image processing application. I used PaintShop Pro for this example. Let me know if you have questions or comments on how the following example was built.
Note: My scanner (a 3-year-old Microtek ScanMaker E3 Plus) had broken earlier this month. I ordered a replacement scanner and until it arrived (for the following-shown items) I had taken a picture of the material to be scanned. I used my digital Olympus camera and then modified (using Paint Shop Pro) slightly the scanned images to put them into the format shown. After my scanner arrived, I replaced the digital camera pictures with properly-scanned images. The exercise was a good test of using a digital camera to capture an image that normally would be captured using a scanner. I am not recommending such an approach -- but, if you do not have a scanner but you have a digital camera: There may be situations you want to do something similar. The following picture is from the "properly scanned" version of the shown picture. I will further discuss this matter in an upcoming newsletter.
Three Discussible Situations
Some of us have been part of these situations.
I hope you have a good month of using -- and, I wish you have continued success with -- your home computing systems.
Contact me regarding any matter in this newsletter that causes you concern or you want to otherwise discuss.
eMail to: SCScompA@aol.com
Examples of Using a Home PC and its Connected Printer
The above title is, perhaps, an overstatement. However, I keep it as it is. I have had a few questions/comments about printing -- and, I have wanted to have a newsletter item for awhile to see if there is sufficient interest in the topic eventually have a more detailed discussion in printing.
In any case, following are the comments for this newsletter item:
- Some basics:
- Have your printer powered prior to powering on / bringing up your Windows PC.
- Have printer paper ready to print and loaded "in" the printer loading tray/bin.
- If you are anticipating using the printer for general notes and non-essential-to-be-saved reasons during the PC session, consider using already-printed-on-one-side paper. Use a pencil or something to "cross out" or otherwise identify the no-longer-needed side of the paper. The other side of the paper should be blank.... but, after you print something you sometimes forget what side is the current information! Especially if you are passing on the recently-printed item to another family member/friend.
- If the paper is printed on two sides and you no longer need the paper and you are going to toss the paper out: Recycle, the paper!
- I have an HP printer. Generally, my printers last 2-to-3 years with good quality and performance. I generally, if it is at all usable, keep the most-recent replaced printer available "offline" for use if the current printer breaks. Certainly, if/when the current printer breaks, it will be at a time you most need a printout of something. Therefore, I store the workable/usable-but-replaced printer in the attic or somewhere in case I need it.
For the past few printers I have purchased for myself or for a customer/other family member, I find $200 USA gives a good home computer system printer.
If your printer is more than two years old and you are considering purchasing a new printer, I find that if you plan ahead a few months and watch the printer's prices -- you can catch a $300-to-$200-to-$150 or less cycle and end up with a nice "current" printer for your home system at less than $200 USA.
- My HP printer cartridges typically last 4-to-6 months. The HP print cartridges I buy are around $30-to-$35 each and I need one for color and one for black and white. Assuming, in my case, I need two cartridges of each per year, my cartridge price per year is a maximum of $140 or $11 per month USA. Although this may seem to be a high number at first glance, I use my printer often and have two PCs (my main PC and a laptop) that share the printer.
- My printer paper costs, for normal paper, are not high. I estimate about $1 per month normal paper.
I use photo color print paper (I use HP Premium Photo Paper, Glossy) quite a bit. I watch the advertisements for sales of the photo paper and the cost per sheet is normally around $0.65 USA. I tend to print multiple photos per sheet and estimate color photo prints end up costing around $0.20 USA per photo.
Let me know your costs for home computer use of your printer regarding normal paper, "cartridges", and photo paper. It would be interesting to see how my costs compare to other users.
- I print at Normal print quality as a default. If you are using the printer for black/white/text such as eMail or general items for family/friend's use, then you might consider changing your print quality to be less than normal (in my system's case, the less-than-normal case is Draft).
You may find that you use less cartridge's-per-year if you use than Normal print quality.
- To find your current printer defaults, you can see them by clicking on:
The printer panel that comes up will be similar to the following:
Selecting your printer by (for example) single right-button clicking your printer name brings forward:
From the above, you can do a number of things -- including look at the printer's current properties.
Your panel may be different than the above, but the options you are offered are (probably!) similar. The above panel is from the support for my printer (an HP 832) on my Windows 2000 primary home PC.
Clicking Printing Preferences brings forward the following panel and offers the Layout or Paper/Quality panel.
From the Paper/Quality panel you decide the current default for Quality and if you want to default to Color.
Note: As mentioned earlier, your panels (presented by your printer's support) may be different than is what is shown in this brief presentation. The options, although similar in meaning, my be presented differently.
From the earlier Start-->Settings-->Printers path and right-button clicking on a particular printer, allows us also to create a shortcut to the printer progress-display panel.
Choosing to create the shortcut brings forth a panel explaining that the shortcut will be placed on your Desktop panel.
The shortcut being there will allow you to have quick access to printing that is currently in-progress as well as allowing you to easily get to that printer's current, specific, settings.
The following is the shortcut on my Desktop. When I want to see the status of printer or address something related to any of the documents in the printer queue, I double-click or otherwise Open that shortcut.
When using the printer shortcut, a panel similar to the following is presented:
The following is a set of panels demonstrating some of the options.
In the above sequence, prior to the last shown panel, I opted to Cancel the currently-printing document.
The above panels are intended to assist you if you are not familiar with some of your printer options.
- Naturally, you may override currently-in-place printer options when you print from a particular application.
The following panel is from my Word 2000 application clicking on File.
From the above-shown panels you may select to take the Page Setup path prior to printing. From there, you can specify options that are specific to this particular print file and also override the printer settings we discussed earlier in this Web page.
- Printing applications that I commonly use -- or have used during the past month include:
We did not discuss sharing printers between multiple PCs in your home or other important matters -- and, we just "touched the surface" of the above matters.
By briefly showing and discussing the above "printing" matters, I hope that this lab item gave you some ideas that enhance your use of printing.
Contact SCScompA regarding the above discussion: I am interested in your comments and in knowing if the topic fits your needs. I also have lab exercises that assist you in better understanding the approaches used if you have need of such assistance.
This Month's Example of Viewing Scanned and/or Digital Camera Pictures using HTM (Web page) parameters.
In many 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.
To see this month's example click on:
This Month's Photograph Examples from SCScompA.
If you clicked on the above, let me know what the download/display times are. I try to keep the displayable time to be less than 5 minutes with a 56KB Internet connection modem. Naturally if you have a high-speed connection: Great!
Don't hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments on the above or for any related discussion.
Miscellaneous Comments Regarding Home Computer Use Matters that Came Up in June
If you are reading this newsletter item, you are no doubt familiar with Web / eMail issues. I would like to mention, here, a few matters that came up in discussions I had with people this past month:
- We have talked about eMail "etiquette" and other related issues in other SCScompA newsletters, but a few reminders of matters I had thoughts of recently:
- Do not expect/ask-for a response to family/friends you communicate with on a regular basis. Keep the eMail approach as a "keep in touch" approach and not a "chore"/job. The family/friend eMail partner you are sending an eMail to may very well have more to do than chat with you! However, eventually, the eMail partner will catch up with your notes and will appreciate your keep-in-touch notes.
Or: Let you know that the eMail is no longer necessary/needed and you get a new eMail partner!
- If you receive an eMail with a "joke" attached or enclosed: I recommend neither responding to the sender nor forwarding the joke to someone else. There are exceptions -- but, I recommend you not use eMail and the Internet for "jokes".
- If you receive an eMail with an "inspirational comment/idea" attached or enclosed: I recommend you rarely forward the inspirational comment/idea to someone else. I recommend, if you appreciated the inspirational comment/idea, that you respond to the sender.
- Enjoy and use eMail. There is nothing wrong with "keep in touch" eMails to family/friends. However, there is no reason to use eMail to "chat" and bother family/friends. There is a fine line between using eMail effectively and using eMail to bother people.
Instant messaging: A topic on its own. There are reasons for using instant messages -- however, always "ask" if the instant message partner has time/interest to participate with your instant messages. If you do not receive a response to the instant message: Do not send another instant message until you hear from the instant message partner.
- Discuss eMail matters and manners with other family members. It is a valuable discussion to have!
The above are only some aspects of this topic -- and each of the above are only meant as reminders. We have discussed this topic in other newsletters -- however, don't hesitate to give me your comments and ideas; I will put your comments/ideas in upcoming newsletters if you agree. As usual, let me know if you have any comments on this newsletter item.
- Miscellaneous matters.
I only mention the following items in brief. If you want more information or to discuss any of the items in more detail with me, don't hesitate to contact me by eMail.
- A good Web page I used this month:
USA Major League baseball Web radio. I use RealPlayer Plus (GoldPass) at a subscription available at $4.95 USA per month. It was a "special offer" and, if I understand it correctly, the normal charge is $9.95 USA per month.
Please let me know if you are using the $10 for the season www.MLB.com path for listening to USA Major League baseball. I am curious if my "more expensive" (I play around $30 for the season rather than the $10 available on www.MLB.com) RealPlayer Plus approach. Let me know which ones you use.
- Other Web pages I use and can recommend:
As I have mentioned a number of times in past newsletters, I read the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Web page nearly every day. If you are not reading, already, a good Web page/newspaper and you are interested in trying that: I can recommend it! If you are German speaking, I can also recommend the Zurich, Switzerland newspaper's Web page. If you are having any trouble either the Minneapolis or Zurich, Switzerland's online newspaper's Web page let me know. If you find another good newspaper's Web page, let me know that!
I normally do not include (here) photos -- but, in a recent Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Web page the following terrific photo was shown.
UPS (United Parcel Service). Strange, that I would mention this as a good Web page -- but, it was nice to use their Web page to follow the progress of a delivery I was expecting. Once you have a tracking number, it was very easy to click on Track on their Web page and enter the tracking number to follow the expected-deliveries' progress. Just make sure that when you order something form somewhere that is shipping it to you -- you ask for the tracking number or furnish then with an eMail address for the company to eMail the tracking number to you. That saves you a phone call.
Contact me if you have need of additional information or otherwise want to discuss any of the above items in more detail.
- I like to keep commonly used Windows active on my desktop while I am using my home PC. What I mean by this is, I (for example) leave the America Online window Sign On screen "active" (opened) on my desktop even if I am not using AOL. That way, I can easily move to that window when I want to go online. It only saves me a few seconds of time -- but, it is easy to do and I find it convenient. I minimize the window when I don't want it. Other Windows applications I tend to have open and ready to go include:
Word 2000. I have it ready to go since I copy/paste from eMail into the Word 2000 panel quite often for printing eMails and using the Word 2000 spell check instead of the eMail service's spell check.
PaintShop Pro. I go there quite often during a PC session and having it minimized works out well for me.
- I find that (perhaps because I am getting older and my mouse clicking expertise is not what it used to be!) I sometimes have trouble telling Windows to Open/Activate an application that is on my Desktop. I seem to double-click on the symbol -- and, sometimes have trouble getting the symbol/Windows to recognize that I double-clicked on it.
Yes, I know that I can adjust my mouse parameters within the Windows operating system.
However, I find myself more and more taking the advantage of just single-clicking on a symbol followed by pressing Enter to activate/Open the application represented in the symbol.
Give it a try sometime, if you are not currently using this technique.
Here are some examples. The left (below) shown item is on my Desktop as-is. The right-hand item is after single-left-button clicking. If I, then, press Enter the item will be activated/Opened.
Give this technique a try if you are having any trouble with your "mouse clicks"!
- Maintenance matters that came up this month.
A few items:
- Backup! Don't forget to backup key user information prior to going on vacation or any trip. Who knows, what may happen while you are gone!
- My primary home PC uses Windows 2000 Professional. I downloaded and installed the latest Windows 2000 service pack (SP2 - the second service pack). It installed fine and I have been running it for a month with no problems.
It took about 5-hours to download SP2 from the Microsoft Web page using my 56KB modem. I had to restart the download three times -- but, eventually it arrived.
It took about 1-hour to install and required about 700 megabytes work hard disk space to do the update. This was available on my main PC without a lot of pain -- but, it is more of a struggle to free up that much hard disk on my 3-year old laptop; so, I have not done the update there (yet).
To free up the hard disk space I copy some major user/non-essential application files to offline storage prior to initiating the Windows SP2 update to Windows 2000 Professional. After the update is completed, I move the files I copied offline back to the PC. I will use the same technique for updating the laptop with SP2.
I use my Ethernet home network to move the user/non-essential application files to somewhere off the PC or laptop. I could have used external ZIP disks or, if I had one, an external CD/RW disk.
The next time I upgrade my home PC I will try to make sure I have about 800 megabytes (or, why not: 1-gig) hard disk free on the "system" disk and keep it unused for the each-year-or-so update to Windows 2000.
- Reminder: If you are an America Online user, you should check your Preferences after you do a "major" AOL update. I realise that you may not ever do major AOL updates -- but, if you (for example) move from AOL V4 to AOL V5 or from AOL V5 to AOL V6: Check your Preferences. I find that each update I need to reset the option for Web graphics to be my preference; AOL seems to not carry over my preference for Web graphics to the "new" system. I recommend you take a few moments to check your Preferences. Let me know if you are an AOL user and you do not know where Preferences are set and would like to check them. Or, just click on Settings if you are on AOL V6. Or, try the AOL Help.
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.
Note: This month's Freecell deal numbers reported (below) are the same as for May, 2001. We have not, unfortunately, taken the chance to play much Freecell in June. If you already have reviewed the May Freecell deal numbers, ignore this section (below).
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. We have completed deals through 1200. Now, we are attacking 1001-to-2000 and I would recommend you start with 2001! 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 "easy" 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: 1955, 1957
Other deals we found interesting-and-not-too-hard this month (number of times to restart is in parentheses):
- Freecell Deal Numbers: 1961 and 1963(1)
A different type of deal was:
- Freecell Deal Number: 1956.
Number of times I had to re-start to complete in lost-count moves: 3
A tough set of deals, are deals: 1955-thru-1963. It took us six restarts to complete the nine deals with five of the nine deals requiring no restarts(fifteen deals, in all). If you try this stretch of nine deals, let me know if you can complete the nine deals with less than a total of fifteen deals and how many of the nine deals you complete without a restart.
Deal 598 continues to be the most difficult one we found in deals 1-1006.
Deal 1123 is the easiest deal, in our opinion, that we have found so far.
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: SCScompA@aol.com
Or send snail-mail to:
P.O. Box 58223
Raleigh NC 27658
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