1. Welcome & What's been happening
2. Ask the Doc...
3. Software Review
4. Web Sites of Interest
5. Y2K Watch
6. Book Review of the Month
1. WELCOME & WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENING
We're late! But, there was a good reason. The software we use to handle our newsletter picked a most inappropriate time to cease functioning. The new release had just be sent out, I'd been using the beta version as a test and all seemed ok. Lo and behold when I installed the released version it would not start on my system. Misery followed, weeks later and we're still trying to track down what went wrong, in the mean time I've finally managed to create a fall back option, so here's the news...
I'll try and make up for the missed newsletter in the next month with a special edition focussing on productivity.
Results of the monthly free software draw:
Ian Marshman has won the copy of the mind blowingly simple Graphics manipulation package Repligator, used by professionals and beginners alike! Details here
Adam Ryan has won the copy of the highly awarded Touch Typing Tutor - TypingMaster, details here
If you'd like to be in the running for some FREE software this month all you have to do is send us an email with the word "FREEBIE" in the subject and you're in the draw!
This month the prizes will be a choice of the recently updated What's the Postcode? and TypingMaster the award wining Typing Tutor, details here:
Speaking of FREE, see David Hamel's report on StickyNotes this month, it appears to be a very handy little utility. Hard to beat at that price too ;-)
Boxer Software is about to release their latest text editor, Boxer 99. It has been 2 years in the making! More details next newsletter.
TypingMaster, V4.6 is only days away from full release too. the new version has many excellent new features such as touch typing on the NumPad (ideal for data entry), Built in Speed tests and new exercises. More news on that in the special productivity issue soon.
Ransen Software have released a new CD learning course. For programmers who need to work with AutoCad from the C++ language this course offers a step-by-step guide to getting the most from the tool. Maybe you know someone that could benefit from this course, if so please feel free to forward this on to them! For more details on Ransen's ObjectARX go here:
"On behalf of PC Magazine, FamilyPC, Computer Gaming World, and ZDTV's "Call for Help," ZDNet's Software Library is pleased to announce that AceReader and Repligator have been selected as finalists the 1999 ZD Shareware Awards competition."
Just in from the floor of the awards ceremony! Repligator has won the SIAF award - not sure for which category yet, probably the Best Graphics Application for 1999! More details when we have them.
As always, if you have any questions, comments or suggestions please feel free to drop us a line.
2. ASK THE DOC.
A simple one this month...
I have a friend who is new to computing who called on me to help them work out a "problem". Their problem was that when they went to run an application they'd had modified for their business it would forget one of the settings they needed set each time they used the program - most likely a bug, but they wanted it to work then and there!
As they live a LONG way from me we had to go back forth via email a bit to establish exactly what was causing his "problem" - once established though the erst fairly simple... What we did was to use Macro Scheduler to record a small macro that firstly started the application in question, then went to options and set the option they needed before letting them start processing with it reset to their liking. We then created a shortcut to that macro script file, and placed it on the desktop and removed the original desktop shortcut that ran the program directly.
Maybe you have a similar problem that an automation tool like Macro Scheduler could help you solve? Give it a whirl today and see for yourself how much easier computing becomes when we don't have to manually do those repetitive steps all the time. http://www.aquatee.com/products/msched.htm
Each Edition we select one of the requests to research and report back to everyone what we recommend. So save yourself some legwork (fingerwork?) and solve some computing ills at the same time - Ask the Doc soon.
3. SOFTWARE REVIEW
Sticky Notes review by David Hamel
How could something so simple be so seductive? It's not very often that I get excited about a software product, much less a small utility program which probably has many imitators. But it's happened. I've just been taken in by Sticky Notes, an elegant utility which brings to the virtual world all the utility and convenience that Post-It (TM) notes brought to the physical world... and then some.
Sticky Notes places a small icon in your desktop tray after installation. Double click the icon, and an empty yellow note is placed on your desktop, its text cursor awaiting your input. Type in "Remember not to leave car in town", drag the note off to the side, and carry on with your other work. In the same way that you've probably put a real yellow note on your screen to remind you of something important, Sticky Notes stands ready to perform the same function, electronically. But that's just the beginning.
You can change the default size, color, font and font color that are used when creating new notes. I'm using a light yellow that matches the classic paper notes, and a handwriting font with blue 'ink'. The appearance is that of a screen with a few handwritten paper notes sticking to it. On some psychological level, it just seems to work.
Sticky Notes has several options to accommodate users with different work styles. You can choose whether to allow other program windows to cover the notes, or whether they should stay on top. In either case, you can always hide notes or show notes, either selectively or en masse. You can save a note to a disk file, or print it to the printer. You can even load text into a note from a disk, as you might do in order to create an on-screen phone list from an existing text file.
When operating on a network, notes can be sent to other users on the network by specifying the name of the destination computer. Instead of sending email messages to announce a meeting--and hoping they'll be read--you could send stay-on-top Sticky Notes to the desktops of those who need to attend. This feature can also be used to send notes afar, across the Internet, so long as you know the IP address of the destination computer.
Can you afford to spend $20 or so for another utility program like this? Put away your wallet. The author asks nothing for this fine program, but instead leaves you with this blessing: "Thank you for trying my little program. I hope it works well for you and gives you some enjoyment. Happy computing and good health."
Sticky Notes is available for download from the website:
4. WEB SITES OF INTEREST
XEROX Crafts Electronic Paper
3M helps produce tests for new lightweight, animated medium. While groups at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and elsewhere also are creating forms of electronic paper, Xerox's version is based on a company invention called gyricon. Gyricon sheets are thin layers of plastic incorporating millions of tiny beads that act somewhat like toner particles in a fax or copier machine, according to Xerox. The beads, contained in oil-filled cavities, rotate when electrical charges are applied to the gyricon, showing different colors and creating images, including text and pictures.
WEB Overwhelms Search Engines
The best site now covers only a sixth of all content--and the problem's getting worse.
And, from Alan Farrelly's Net News July 8th, 1999: "The Net's growing so fast, search engines can't keep up. The most effective engine, Northern Light, only covers 16% of the Net and the most popular even less - Altavista 15.5%, HotBot 11.3%, Yahoo 7.4% and Lycos a mere 2.5%. And it now takes over 6 months on average for a new Web page to make it into a search engine's listings. The study was run by Steve Lawrence and C. Lee Giles at the NEC Research Institute in Princeton, and published in the journal Nature. The pair estimate that in February this year, the searchable Web contained 800 million pages with more than 6 trillion characters, triple that of December 1997."
NT vs Linux Tests
There's been a bit of to'ing and fro'ing in the NT vs Linux market of late as relates to tests between the two operating systems. Microsoft commissioned a series of tests of an optimised NT system versus an unoptimised Linux one - guess who looked the better in the results ;-) Now, In a more open benchmark comparing the performance of Linux and Windows NT, PC Week Labs not only found that NT remains substantially faster but also isolated Linux's shortcomings and gained insight into where future development of the open-source operating system should be headed.
AMD Red Ink Deepens
Can the K7 save embattled chip maker from Intel "gorilla" warfare? Calling Intel an 800-pound gorilla, Advanced Micro Devices said on Wednesday it would post a larger-than-expected loss for the second quarter, partly due to its bloody price war with Intel.
ALTAVISTA'S Face To Change Fast
You'll very soon see AltaVista.com take on a new look crafted by new owner CMGI, which is positioning the portal and search site as a "mega portal."
Shareware Discussion Newsgroups
Don't forget the new Newsgroups setup especially for YOU! These are moderated groups (moderated by a fellow Australian, Scott Kane) so are free from flames, spam and other forms of abuse. For on topic, helpful and prompt help and advice on any matters to do with shareware software you really should consider having a read of the new moderated newsgroups at:
5. Y2K WATCH
Y2K was worth all it?! Well these learned people seem to be suggesting it was, read all about! Accrued Savings of the Year 2000 Computer Date Problem Leon Kappelman & Phil Scott http://www.comlinks.com/mag/accr.htm
This page contains links to online news stories related to Year 2000 computing issues. http://www.year2000.com/articles/articles.html
6. BOOK REVIEW
Review by Bill Dimech
By Matthew Reilly
ISBN 0 330 36089 2
Published by Pan Macmillan
At a remote American research facility in the Antarctic, scientists are drilling deep in to the ice to collect ice samples going back 100 million years. Then something unimaginable happens… They discover a cavern with an air pocket and then hit something made of metal. They then discover a way to send divers down to investigate. A message is received from the dive team; they have discovered a craft of some kind. The next message they receive is one of confusion and extreme panic as the dive team is attacked. That was the last message they received from the dive team. Answering the stations call for help, the United States sends in a team of marines to secure this discovery as it is something that Other nations would kill for.
It may seem as though I have given the plot away here, but this all takes place in the first 20 pages. The action is non-stop all the way through to the last page of this 600 page novel.
It really is action, action, action, all the way through as soon as it looks like slowing down, something else happens and you loose more sleep. I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, if you are sort of person that needs a story to be based on firm scientific fact and realism, then this is not for you. It was definitely written to be fun. It would definitely make the perfect James Bond film, with amazing coincidences and totally unrealistic action sequences. Don't let me put you off though, if you liked the film 'True Lies' or any of the James Bond movies, then this book is for you.
I normally read a little bit each night before going to sleep. I find that it helps me get my mind off the day to day issues and settles me down for a good nights sleep. Boy what a mistake this book was. I could not put it down and read one third of the book on the first night. The only reason I stopped was that it was getting very late (or early) and I had to get some sleep before going to work. Any way I have finished it within a few nights and I am now awaiting his next book.
I don't want to give any more of the story away, BUT I can't help picturing big Arnie playing the lead marine in this amazingly realistic story where the technological advantages that a discovery like this could provide lead to some pretty desperate measures.
It's not perfect though. I was not totally happy with the ending, it was just a bit too convenient. However don't worry about that, there is enough action to make it a worthwhile ride.
If you like your action to be fun and aren't one of those people that expects everything to be real, then this book is definitely worth a read. More details here