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Last update: 1-2-96.

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Thankful thoughts at New Years

29 Dec 1995

Bill Sutcliffe writes:

As 1995 ends, I want to thank each of you for the help and encouragement you've given me as I have struggled to master personal computing generally and the Internet in particular.

I didn't come to personal computing totally ignorant. I had worked with computers since 1960, starting with the Univac 1103A and the IBM 1401; but, there is a large difference between developing applications for big mainframe computers in installations crawling with engineers and other experts, and doing it "solo" on a PC.

And, this time I didn't have youth, health and vigor going for me. Instead, I was a 60-year-old dealing with two chronic diseases (rheumatoid arthritis and myelodysplasia) in trying to recover from an acute staphalococcus infection and resultant major surgery and eight weeks in hospital.

In addition, I was trying to absorb the trauma of being laid off by the company that had employed me for nearly 20 years. I was accustomed to getting awards for my work, and drew much of my personal gratification from doing a difficult job well.

I had just bought my 486-based PC--mostly to support a job search--when the staphalocuccus infection struck. Back home from hospital, I didn't want to fire it up. I was simply too physically exhausted and too depressed from my doctors' telling me that I would NEVER recover enough to go back to work. But, my wife understood the priorities and badgered me into it, correctly realizing that it would give me an interest and keep me occupied QUIETLY while I regained strength.

Then I got hooked, and the rest is history. Now I exchange e-mail with dozens of people I've never met personally, do extensive research with nary a trip to a library, write scholarly pieces and have them published by obscure journals, AND GENERALLY HAVE FUN. I'm not back at work (disability-retired now), but I'm much better than the doctors thought I would be, ever again. I do some volunteering, and find that enjoyable and satisfying. Quite a lot to be grateful for, when you think about it.

And, to a considerable extent, I have all of you to thank! At many points, I would have been defeated by difficulties encountered, except that one or another of you patiently explained the errors in my thinking and procedures.

Thank you. May you have a fine, healthy, prosperous new year. And may you have HOPE, too! The world is fumbling its way toward being a better place, and the information revolution is making an important contribution.

Gender-based attitudes toward the Internet?

31 Dec 95

Mary Matthews writes:

I've noticed that Jerry and I are approaching the Internet in completely different ways. He likes to "surf," in much the same way he likes to channel-surf. I like to go to favored places and communicate with the people I find there. In the past 3.3 days I've sent about 10 messages to various people I've found -- which is _at least_ nine more messages than Jerry has sent in the last six weeks or so, since he got 'Net access at work. I suspect that our approaches are sex-linked, but who can say?

Sound Blaster 16

24 Dec 1995

Glenn Burklund writes:

I think I have the SB16 up OK now, and the system is fully functional and hangin' together. Miracle of miracles! This rascal is not particularly user friendly. I had anticipated that I would encounter base and treble staves, upon which I could see and write notes...but no such thing. I have been able to get music out of the thing... short selections lasting perhaps a minute or two from samples. But if u can't see the music, how can u add accompanyment, introduce grace notes, land all the niceties? Beats the hell out of me.

Ray Miller replies:

Get CAKEWALK DEMO from the following:

It shows everything you wanted to see and more. It is the cat's meow when it comes to a music program that will allow reading, writing, arranging, and multi-voice instrumentation.

Glenn: As best I can determine so far, it will only (somehow) play midi files, and short samples(.wav)of events like the rifle shot. I'm sure it all fits together somehow. I have also concluded that the .voc files are compressed files that must be converted into either .wav or .mid files. Am I on the right track?

Ray: Pretty much. VOC files are "voice" files that can have music or voice or both. Simply, they are "recordings" of whatever.

Glenn: I gotta read the manual several times to understand what they are >trying to say. Damn, how can people put out a product, several million I understand, and put such a crappy manual to accompany it. They need a serious overview to relate all the capabilities. Am I right or missing the point?

Ray: CREATIVE LABS *S*U*C*K*S* when it comes to customer support - including their damned poor manuals. I am getting error messages that are NEVER referenced in the manuals. How can a company write a user manual that doesn't contain ALL the information necessary for understanding what the hell is supposed to happen when it doesn't and I get an error message. They are less than friendly when it comes to "TECH SUPPORT." I had started by calling their phone number (on my nickle) only to get some dumbass who can't answer my question. I have recently resorted to nastygrams via e-mail. So far I have sent one a day for the past month. Still no answer. I will start two a day until someone gets off their dead butt and responds.

Glenn: Gonna' keep on studying the documentation and do a bunch of piddling to see what I can extricate from the melange'

Windows 95 (Part 1)

25 Aug 1995

Glenn Burklund writes:

Darned if I going to be first on block with Win95. Even Martinsville went crazy. One outlet got 25 copies and they were gone in less than an hour. Boy, all this Gates has to do is crook his finger and the whole country goes bonkers. I just don't understand it. Our little newpaper has been plastered with info on Win95 for weeks now. I j-u-s-t don't understand the power of this guy. The Journals are the same. CNet on Internet is the same way, tho they will go out of their way to criticize Microsoft if they think something is wrong. CNN has been running big stories on satellite and on, and on, and on.

I think I might just wait until after the first of the year, or maybe NT...I think it was u that sorta convinced me I should go the NT route, but I can't quite remember why for the momemt, but it seems it was 4 a good reason.

Windows 95 (Part 2)

24 Oct 1995

Glenn Burklund writes:

Hey, I just got 23 disks of W95, together with Microsoft Works for W95. Whatta' I do now? U say don"t install W95, and now I got all this W95 stuff. I don't dare make a move without the permission of u or Bud, so what do u gys say????? Should I or shouldn't I??? And what about Norton 5.0...whatta' I do with that??? Shoot, I'm all bolixed up.

Ray Miller responds:

OK! You want my opinion! Here it is....

But first, have you heard the latest about W95??? It seems that when a file is deleted, all but the header resides on the HD. Of course, we know that -- BUT -- when you open another file over the same space as the deleted file used, all that is not used by the new file is then appended to the end of the new file. In other words, you will be reading your new file and all of a sudden where you expected the end of it, appears some stuff that you thought was gone!

This has caused untold problems for folks who share the computer - often revealing private or confidential information to the unsuspecting 2nd user. Ah, but this ain't all, Microsoft in all their wisdom is promising a "fix" that will be available on the Internet in a "few weeks." What about those millions who don't access or even have access to the Internet? Big Bucks Gates will sell them a diskette with the fix on it!!! What did I tell you?!?!?! The ripoff of Windows users has begun and with millions of copies of W95 out there, Big Bucks stands to make bigger bucks!!!

I for one do not wish to add to his fortune just yet. I will wait until ALL the bugs are discovered. As you know, I hate Windows with a passion. I use it because it is the platform for some of the nicest applications you can get. It is a means to an end and I am looking for a way out - perhaps UNIX is the next best way to go. I wish someone with the talent and experience would come up with another platform that allows true multitasking and all that great graphics stuff that I like. W95 is the only option at the moment (for what I want to do). However, until I am convinced that Big Bucks has optimized W95 code and debugged it, I will NOT put in on my system. W3.11 is working just fine for me right now and I can deal with the environment just fine, also. I have seen some of the access times for loading a 32-bit program vs. a 16-bit program, and I am less than impressed. Disk access is not all that great! (Note: Same computer, same CPU, same HD size, same everything except for the version of Windows and the operating system - 16- vs 32-bit).

There you have it -- my opinion for what its worth. I must add that I don't think you can be hurt by installing W95. I have many clients who have had me install it on their machines who say it is great! But, some are rethinking their decision to install it due to the bugs that are now cropping up and the potential for having to PURCHASE upgrades in the near future. I warned them! Now I gloat!

Digital Ink


Richard Stolker writes:

I have just received (but haven't loaded nor tried) Digital Ink. If it's even halfway decent I think I will give it a try as an alternative to America OnLine. I'm kind of fed up with AOL because half the time you can't get onto the service, and when you do get on it's often at 9600, 7200 or even 2400 baud (even though I have called a 14400 access line from my 14400 modem). I like the concept of Digital Ink - very information based (as opposed to cutesy entertainment based) but HSS is still enthralled with AOL and I may have a battle before I can cancel AOL. Also, the beta version of Digital Ink was totally unacceptable because of its speed (or lack of same); I hope the final version isn't so slow and clunky.

Forth (A programming language)

3 Oct 1995

Glenn Burklund writes:

Checked into C-Net, and downloaded several different versions of Forth. The best I have found so far is Pygmy Forth. It's nice and small, and can be a great little version for teaching kids the fundamental of programming.

Bought a version from Laboratory Microsystems called WinForth ($100), cause I wanted to use it for some graphics, but the damn thing is so complex as to be nearly useless, and he used to put out a terrific version. The problems is that miserable code that is required for handling windows- the msg boxes, the menus, the windows handlers, the API and on and on and on. U completely lose the elegance and simplicity of Forth. I guess I'll just have forget using graphics with it, and maybe a little further down the line someone will work out a more viable interface. This whole damn field is getting so complex, one keeps getting behinder. Just 2 interface for the slightest graphics, u must be expert in C++, completely understand the structure of, and be a windows programmer. Then and only then can u turn ur attention to your application. Phooey!!! I'm getting discouraged. U and Bud have something goin' for u all. Your a lot younger, but ur following me down the same path, and ur gonna follow me guys, so enjoy ur smarts while u gottem'.

Software vendors list

18 Sep 1995

Ray Miller writes:

This is an amazing list of software vendors and their support numbers.


12 Sep 1995

Glenn Burklund wites:

Got to thinking...if u just found Cnets Software library, u must not have subscribed to Cnet yet. it's easy at

You'll be above the 100,000 new member. It was 51,000 when I joined (no charge). It is quite useful, and some good reviews...I would have thot u would have found it long ago. I only found it because of a television prog call C-NET Central that's on each Sat on the Satellite.

Ray Miller replies:

I joined some 4 months ago and forgot all about it. I guess my membership went stale and they dropped me or some such. I am a member again as we speak.

The following link was mentioned in a major article in the newspaper today. I looked in on it and it is really neat....

This is the neatest thing I have seen yet on the Internet. I am able to make up my own character and put him into the space station and walk around looking through his eyes. I can walk up to people and start a conversation with them. This is neat.....

Accessing the US Government on the Web

31 Aug 1995 Bill Sutcliffe writes:

I recommend:

Maxwell, Bruce, Washington Online: How to Access the Fed Govt on the Internet, Congressional Quarterly, 1995. So far, I have found this a very useful book for the researcher. I say "so far" bcs I haven't used it much. I'll give you a more extensive report later, if you want one. (Most of the "Net" books I've seen are frauds--poundage done to capitalize on current Net notoriety. (And Netcom's Cady/McGregor is just as bad as AOL's Lichty.) It's refreshing that this guy has done his homework and invested time in producing a usefully organized product.

He was having a bad day . . .

31 Aug 1995

******* Message from *******

Agora: Retrieving WWW Documents through E-mail

is temporarily out-of-service. It will be restored as soon as possible, but probably not soon enough for you not to get ancy waiting for it. Please do not send us any messages asking when it will be available, or why this downtime is required, or what your views are about this downtime. We can't and won't read that mail, so there is no point in sending it.

ABOVE ALL, do not send mail to the author of Agora (Arthur Secret) complaining about the fact that this server is down, or asking when it will be back up -- Arthur is not responsible for this downtime!

Please note that even once the service is restored, it will not be able to act as the central mail<->web gateway for the entire world! This is simply impossible. The Agora software is intended to be installed on or NEAR your local machines (preferably the closest machine on your mail path with a real connection to the Internet).

If you are interested in installing the Agora server (alpha, supported) on your machine, please contact . A new mailing-list has been created, called , that should be limited to announcements of new sites where Agora is installed and open to anyone, and of new versions of the software. Send subscribe messages to .

You can also try Peter Flynn's http-by-mail service: Send a 1-line request in the form

GO http://www/w3/org/hypertext/WWW/MarkUp/html-spec/html-spec.txt

to the address

The only restriction is this serves text (HTML and plain) by HTTP only, no graphics, and no FTP.

Fantastic ragtime midis

28 Aug 1995

Ray Miller writes:

OK you guys, here is a site worth looking at if you like Tin Pan Alley music - mostly rags. The main site is Sheet Music Covers at:

But, in fooling around, I found their ftp site where you will need to download the file ALL_MIDI.ZIP. It is: (I think this is the path)

All midis are written in two voice piano (grand). With SESSION or some other music editor, you can change the music to your liking. With MIDI Ensemble, you can program up to 60 ??? tunes and listen to them while other stuff is going on, like writing e-mail....

Enjoy the hell out of this. The collection is somewhere around 125 pieces. The COVERS page has about 25 covers for accompanying .MID files. However, I found that it was much more efficient to get the entire collection via FTP and worry about those covers I really wanted to have. Printed in color, the covers are beautiful. I will eventually get all that become available to me.

Adobe Acrobat

Bud Stolker writes:

Are you using Adobe Acrobat Reader? It's a free download from

Ray Miller responds:

Yup! I got it a few weeks ago and like it for those things that are unreadable with my usual readers.

Bud: I've used it a few times (got a dealer demo disk with the Bible, complete works of Shakespeare, illustrated books, etc.) and basically hated it. It looks good, but it's just plain annoying to try to read a newspaper on-screen, even if the software is helping you find your way around the page.

Ray: I agree totally. That is the only thing that annoys me about it however. I guess I don't read a newspaper from line to line. I scatter-read at best....

Bud: The reason I mention it is that you need it to read the NY Times daily 8-page fax (I think it's called TimesFax). I tried it. You go to the Web page, Netscape calls up Acrobat, the file downloads (220 Kb. for an 8-page newspaper), then you can read the paper to your heart's content. When finished, Acrobat disappears and you're back in Netscape. I find that Acrobat tends to disconnect my modem while I'm browsing in it. Aside from that bug, it's certainly interesting to see a fully formatted newspaper on the Web. (If you haven't tried it and you're interested, I have all the url's and the info somewhere--not handy of course.)

Ray: Send 'em and I will give the Times a shot. Sometimes when composing mail in Eudora or fiddling with a viewer on my end, my connection will "time-out" and drop my connection. When in UseNet, Netscape, or FTP, the connection remains active for as long as I want it. So, my EWAG is that perhaps Acrobat is not at fault -- it may be your server timing out if no activity is detected for a certain length of time.


9 Jul 1995

Bill Sutcliffe writes:

I have installed a really nice digitized photo processing pkg called PhotoWorks (a Seattle Film Works product). It has a very convenient interface and seems to do a top notch job of enhancement, manipulation, etc. I like it a lot better than Paint Shop Pro, which I have on free home trial.

Joyce is going to go wild over this! She got a bunch of family pix digitized, and wants to do a digitized slide show. PhotoWorks makes that quite easy. My own interest is in being able to incorporate pix in newsletters--a much simpler proposition.

Netcom's NetCruiser Internet Browser

6 Jul 1995

Bill Sutcliffe writes:

I love it! The Netcom Net interface, I mean!

Earlier this week, I did a bunch of Web browsing, just to learn how. Haven't yet tried anything serious on the Web. Visited a lot of places I had recorded as sounding interesting or fun, but which AOL wasn't able to take me to. No problem, with Netcruiser. (However, my old nemesis, the Electronic [London] Telegraph, aborted me when I tried to register. I sent e-mail to Netcom tech support on that, but they haven't replied. They are SLOW!)

This morning, I ventured into Gopherspace, asking a serious question about Zambia. Astoundingly, I got several leads, and have sent e-mail to AFRICOM in Italy and to the Univ of Zambia (didn't know they had one!) as a result. Wow!

Image mapping for HTML graphics

17 Jun 1995

Ray Miller writes:

I finally have image mapping under control. Check out my "links to other URLs" and the buttons. Created entirely in CorewDraw, I put it together in about 20-minutes. I used MapEdit to set up the hot spots and a hex editor to change all the 0A 0D's to 0A's, excluding the very last CR LF at the end of the file. Simply change the last ones to 00 00 and that should make the file useable under the .MAP controls of your server. If you want to see a great help file on setting up image mapped graphics within your home page, contact the following:

Pen Mouse

30 Jun 1995

Bill Sutcliffe writes: In case you wrote down my enthusiastic recommendation of the Best (brand) Pen Mouse, belay that!! It works very well-- when it works, which is for about 2 wks. I have had four (4) of them, now. The fourth one quit yesterday, two wks after it came in the mail as a replacement from Best(?). Junk. (You warned me there was a lot of that, out there. True. And sharks and alligators, too.)

Ray's digital camera


Bud Stolker asks Ray Miller: Is your Fotoman Plus strictly black and white?

Ray responds: Sure is - hell, for $200 what do you expect. While in CA last visit, I went by Logitec in Fremont and bought a factory "second" - great prices and great stuff. Cordless mouse for $40 and a regular Fotoman for $99. The Plus has 640x400 resolution while the Fotoman has 320x200. I am most impressed with mine and recommend it to anyone. The new color cameras are nifty, but are limited to 12-16 pictures per load. I get 32 and am pleased as punch with the results. AND, the pictures are in a useable size - about 100K until I crop them. The color 640x400x32K fotos are half a meg and more. I simply have no use for that size file. Until they come out with a better compacting scheme, I will be stuck with B/W. (For more information, check out Ray's Fotoman discussion and picture on Landmark's Photographing for the Web page.)

Writing and viewing Web pages


Bud Stolker writes: I use Netscape Version 1.0N. Will upgrade to 1.1 when they fix the bugs. I'm also using several other browsers to check the look of my Home Page. I use WebSurfer by Chameleon (this dog has more bugs than most hounds have fleas), the AoL Version 2.5 beta browser, and NetCruiser (which came bundled with my brother's NetCom account). Every one does something different!

One of my clients who has cerebral palsy uses Lynx, a DOS-only browser that doesn't support graphics. He puts on his headset and "talks" to Lynx. It works fine, but it makes a horrible mess of my lists--especially my Websites page. Either Lynx has a bug or I do! Once you've seen the Web on a VGA display you can never go back to DOS ("the dark place").

I had hoped when we got Videotex it would be more sophisticated than this. HTML is pretty damn basic!

Ray Miller responds: For developing html pages and putting code together I use HTMLASST. It allows off line testing of your code for look and feel. I think it is pretty great. The Page Master stuff that I am beta testing is going to be the best. It has so many bells and whistles that I can hardly wait to see it in its final form. We are recommending that Gary include background .JPEGs that are 96x96 pixels very much like the texture swatches that come with the photo editing packages. He liked the idea and is planning to pull together a hundred or so. There are a lot of things he can add to the package that "I" would like that most folks would never use, so he has to be selective and think of the "typical" user of his software.

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