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PC Chat appears twice weekly in San Diego's North County Times & in Riverside County's The Californian.

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Year 2000 aro-grn.gif Click Here for Complete Listing of 2000's PC Chats
Year 2001 aro-grn.gif Click Here for Complete Listing of 2001's PC Chats
July 1, 2001 Saving Ink When Printing Maps & Directions
July 3, 2001 More on Faxing + Using WinZip
July 8, 2001 Comments & Questions from Readers
July 10, 2001 Some Paradoxes in Microsoft Products
July 17, 2001 Windows Explorer "View" Options
July 19, 2001 Using Macros in Various Versions of MSWorks
July 23, 2001 Using Your Spreadsheet to Add It All Up
July 24, 2001 Manipulating your windows in Windows
July 26, 2001 Make a Folder for your "Run" Commands
July 29, 2001 Drag & Drop Pictures into Outlook Express
Sunday
July 29
Drag & Drop Pictures into Outlook Express

     Nathan Kelly sent me a neat trick which makes attaching files to Outlook Express email a breeze. Let's say you've written a letter and that you want to attach five photos to it. Instead of going to Insert/File or clicking the Paper Clip icon, bring up Windows Explorer by right-clicking Start and choosing Explore. Find the folder containing you photos and open it with a double-click. Now you can drag the photos into the OE email window, where they will align themselves in the "Attach" box.

     Beyond that, you can hold down Ctrl as you click the picture files, making it possible to drag and drop several at once. Furthermore, this maneuver is not limited to graphic files; you can drag and drop most any kind of file you want attached to the letter.

     Speaking of doing Ctrl+click to grab random files, this works in all areas of Windows Explorer. If you want grab a bunch of contiguous files, click on the first one and press your Shift key. With Shift held down, click on the last one and watch all the enclosed files turn dark. Now the whole group can be moved, deleted, or copied simultaneously.

     Speaking of graphics, Don Skiver asked how to make an image appear in Windows Explorer. Open Explorer, as described above, and find the picture you want displayed. Then go to View and be sure "As Web Page" is checked. Finally, click on the target graphic filename and it will display itself.

     If you want all the pictures in a particular folder to be displayed, right-click the folder before opening it and choose Properties. Make sure "Enable Thumbnail View" is checked and double-click the folder to open it. Finally, go to View, Thumbnails and all the "bitmap" images will be displayed in miniature. However, none of the above will display "vector" files, such as those created with Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw.

     A lady named JO wrote to ask if it's possible to launch a blank MSWord document that has a "dotted border" showing, the way WordPerfect pages do. This border shows the limits of your typing area, but does not appear when page is printed. In Word you get this border by going to Tools, Options, View, Print & Web Layout Options and checking the "Text Boundaries" box.

     Jonathan Gordon wrote to say he stores special symbols, such as the "cents" sign and foreign alphabet characters, on a word processing page and then accesses the page when he needs to use any of them. This makes it a lot easier than going to the Windows Character Map (charmap) and getting them one at a time. Actually, I do the same thing, since it's easier to Copy and Paste the needed symbols from your own special list.

     Speaking of special symbols, don't overlook the ones found in the Wingdings font, which contains a smiley face, a telephone and an assortment of arrows, among other things. Other fonts with miniature drawings are Wingdings 2 and 3. Go to Start, Run and type CHARMAP to check out all the special symbol fonts you have. Many of us have fonts such as Holiday, Animals, and OfficePlanning, to name just a few.

     Keep in mind, however, that these fonts work great in printed documents; but, when used in email, can only be seen by the recipient if he or she has the same font. Nowadays, though, nearly everyone has the Wingdings fonts, as well as Symbol (the one with the Greek letters in it).

     A deadly virus going around these days comes attached to an email which says, "Hi. How are you? I send you this file in order to have your advice. See you later. Thanks."

     The computer-killing attachment will have a name like "PMSNewsNov2000.doc.com." The culprit will undoubtedly make changes in the text and attachment's name, but delete immediately anything with ".doc.com" at the end of the filename. Better yet, don't accept any attachments unless you are absolutely sure they are safe.

Thursday
July 26
Make a Folder for your "Run" Commands

     In the past I've described some handy utilities that can be accessed by using the Start, Run command. Typing in commands such as CALC, PBRUSH, or CHARMAP will launch Calculator, PaintBrush, and Character Map.

     Yes, these programs can be accessed by going to Start, Run, Programs, Accessories, etc.; but typing their names into the RUN box is easier. How about making it easier yet?

     Right-click your Desktop and choose New, Folder. In the "New Folder" label that appears type "Run Commands." We'll place shortcuts to your favorite "Run" utilities in this folder, which will make them accessible with just a few mouse clicks.

     Here's are some of the shortcuts I have in my folder: Calculator, PaintBrush, Character Map, Notepad, WordPad, ScanDisk, Defrag, and Dialer.

     These utilities are a Calculator (Regular or Scientific), the PaintBrush image-editing program, the Character Map for accessing symbols not found on your keyboard, Notepad, for plain text editing, WordPad for simple word processing, the ScanDisk and Defrag disk maintenance utilities, and Dialer, a speed phone-dialing program.

     These programs are all located in your C:\Windows folder, which can be accessed through Windows Explorer by right-clicking Start and choosing Explore. Game fans will also find Solitaire, FreeCell, and MSHearts in this folder. These are great, by the way, for helping new computer users get the feel of handling the mouse.

     To get these items into your "Run Commands" folder, just drag the desired icons into it. They will turn into "Shortcut " files as they are put in your new folder, leaving the actual programs in place.

     Their labels can be edited to remove the "Shortcut To" phrase by right-clicking the label and choosing Rename. For instance, "Shortcut To Sol.exe" can be changed to "Solitaire." Use upper or lower case to suit yourself. The case doesn't matter.

     Now when you want to launch one of these programs, double-click the "Run Commands" folder and then double-click the desired program. Win98+ users can drag the folder onto the Quick Launch area of the Taskbar at the bottom of the screen. If the folder doesn't want to stay there, right-click the Taskbar and choose Toolbars. Make sure that "Quick Launch" is checked.

     Some readers say they have trouble generating special symbols with CHARMAP. The first thing to do is make sure the font in CHARMAP matches the font you're currently using in your document. "Symbol" often comes up as the default. This is full of Greek symbols, and probably not the list of characters you want.

     Once you have the correct font window in view, let's say you want to use the "cents" symbol after typing a numeric amount, say, 25. Click on the "cents" sign and then click Select. Click on Copy and return to your document. Place your cursor after 25 and click. Finally, do Ctrl+V (or go to Edit, Paste). The cents symbol will appear in its proper place.

     Now let's suppose you have several other places in your document where a cents sign could be used. Do you have to repeat this CHARMAP ritual each time? No, you don't.

     Finish your document, placing the numeric "cents" amounts where needed. Then mouse-select the "cents" sign you created earlier. Copy the symbol with Ctrl+C and click where the next symbol should appear. Do Ctrl+V. Repeat Ctrl-V wherever you need the symbol to appear.

     If you happen to be using MSWord or MSWorks 6.0/2000 you can do all this by going to Insert, Symbol or Special Character. Just go to Insert, Symbol.

Tuesday
July 24
Manipulating your windows in Windows

     One of the things that sets Windows off from earlier DOS systems is the use of floating frames. This is where we do most of our work; and here are some tips to help you manage these movable windows.

     All these windows have a bar across the top that's normally blue when the window is "active" and grayish when it's not. If there are multiple overlapping windows, the one in front is always the active one. Any other window can be brought to the front with a single click on it.

     Any window can be relocated by left-clicking its top blue bar and dragging it. Also, most windows can be resized by clicking an edge or corner and using the double-pointed arrows to reshape them.

     As for the three buttons in a window's upper right corner, we've all learned that the X will close the window, while the "dash" will reduce it to a button on the Taskbar; and that a single click on the button will restore the window to its previous condition.

     If a middle button contains a square, clicking this "maximize" symbol will cause the window to fill the screen. Clicking the "overlapping" squares in the middle button will return the window to its most recent "floating" condition. Double-clicking anywhere on the blue bar will cause the window to alternate between these two conditions.

     If you have multiple windows open that you'd like to arrange in an easy-to-access manner, right-click your Taskbar and choose "Cascade Windows." Right-clicking the Taskbar also lets you choose between "tiling" the windows vertically or horizontally.

     Manipulating windows within a given program can offer other possibilities. If you have multiple windows open in MSWord you can click on Window and choose Arrange All. If you're using MSWorks in versions earlier than 6.0, clicking on Window will let you choose between Cascade and Tile. Sadly, these options were omitted from Works 6.0/2000.

     Another window option found in some programs is "Split." This allows you to split the active window into two sections, each of which has its own set of scroll bars. This is particularly useful in spreadsheets or database programs, where you want to keep, say, your Header Row in view while you scroll down to other entries. A vertical split can keep one or more columns in view, while you scroll to other entries far out to the right.

     A horizontal split is also available in MSWord, as well as in the MSWorks word processors prior to 6.0. This is another feature which was mysteriously omitted from Works 6.0/2000.

     If you're not familiar with splitting a page, click on Split under View or Windows. The next click anywhere on your word processing page will insert a horizontal bar which will follow your mouse. Another click will anchor the bar so that each section of your divided page will have its own scroll bars. If you want to change the position of the bar, grab it and drag it with a left mouse-click. If you no longer want the page split, simply drag the bar out of view to the top or bottom of your page.

     On spreadsheet and database pages, the Split command will place a cross-shaped bar in the middle of the page, dividing it into four sections. Move either the vertical or horizontal bar to where you want it, and then drag the other to one of the page's edges, taking it out of view.

     Speaking of databases and spreadsheets, if you have any entries that are wider than the cells they're in, you can go to Format, Column Width and make the correction. What's easier, however, is to double-click the corresponding cell in the Header Row. This will cause the column's width to increase to accommodate its longest entry.

Monday
July 23
Using Your Spreadsheet to Add It All Up

     One of the things that sets Windows off from earlier DOS systems is the use of floating frames. This is where we do most of our work; and here are some tips to help you manage these movable windows.

     All these windows have a bar across the top that's normally blue when the window is "active" and grayish when it's not. If there are multiple overlapping windows, the one in front is always the active one. Any other window can be brought to the front with a single click on it.

     Any window can be relocated by left-clicking its top blue bar and dragging it. Also, most windows can be resized by clicking an edge or corner and using the double-pointed arrows to reshape them.

     As for the three buttons in a window's upper right corner, we've all learned that the X will close the window, while the "dash" will reduce it to a button on the Taskbar; and that a single click on the button will restore the window to its previous condition.

     If a middle button contains a square, clicking this "maximize" symbol will cause the window to fill the screen. Clicking the "overlapping" squares in the middle button will return the window to its most recent "floating" condition. Double-clicking anywhere on the blue bar will cause the window to alternate between these two conditions.

     If you have multiple windows open that you'd like to arrange in an easy-to-access manner, right-click your Taskbar and choose "Cascade Windows." Right-clicking the Taskbar also lets you choose between "tiling" the windows vertically or horizontally.

     Manipulating windows within a given program can offer other possibilities. If you have multiple windows open in MSWord you can click on Window and choose Arrange All. If you're using MSWorks in versions earlier than 6.0, clicking on Window will let you choose between Cascade and Tile. Sadly, these options were omitted from Works 6.0/2000.

     Another window option found in some programs is "Split." This allows you to split the active window into two sections, each of which has its own set of scroll bars. This is particularly useful in spreadsheets or database programs, where you want to keep, say, your Header Row in view while you scroll down to other entries. A vertical split can keep one or more columns in view, while you scroll to other entries far out to the right.

     A horizontal split is also available in MSWord, as well as in the MSWorks word processors prior to 6.0. This is another feature which was mysteriously omitted from Works 6.0/2000.

     If you're not familiar with splitting a page, click on Split under View or Windows. The next click anywhere on your word processing page will insert a horizontal bar which will follow your mouse. Another click will anchor the bar so that each section of your divided page will have its own scroll bars. If you want to change the position of the bar, grab it and drag it with a left mouse-click. If you no longer want the page split, simply drag the bar out of view to the top or bottom of your page.

     On spreadsheet and database pages, the Split command will place a cross-shaped bar in the middle of the page, dividing it into four sections. Move either the vertical or horizontal bar to where you want it, and then drag the other to one of the page's edges, taking it out of view.

     Speaking of databases and spreadsheets, if you have any entries that are wider than the cells they're in, you can go to Format, Column Width and make the correction. What's easier, however, is to double-click the corresponding cell in the Header Row. This will cause the column's width to increase to accommodate its longest entry.

Sunday
July 22
Using Your Spreadsheet to Add It All Up

     When I first got into desktop computers in the late 1970s we had to write our own programs, because none had yet been created for these new, mysterious devices. The first commercial program to become available in those days was something called VisiCalc. It was a spreadsheet application and I remember being fascinated with all the wonderful things I could do with it; mainly, calculating things like costs, prices and profit ratios for my business.

     VisiCalc eventually lost out to more full-featured applications such as Lotus 1-2-3 and Quattro Pro, which were themselves eventually eclipsed by Microsoft's Excel, along with their spreadsheet utility in MSWorks.

     If you've not yet discovered the power and versatility of your spreadsheet program, start by trying one of its most basic functions: adding up a column of figures. Open a blank spreadsheet page and type some random numbers into cells A1 through A6. Click on cell A7. This is where we want the total will appear.

     In order to display a total, a formula needs to be entered into this cell.

     Type in the following and press Enter: =F1+F2+F3+F4+F5+F6. Spreadsheet formulas always begin with an "equals" sign and this formula tells the program to add the contents of the indicated cells and to put the total in the currently selected cell.

     But this is a lot of typing just to do something you could have done faster with a pocket calculator. Lets make it easier. Delete the contents of the "answer" cell by hitting your spacebar key. Now type the following: =SUM(A1:A6) and press Enter. You got the same answer, but with less typing.

     Let's do it with even less typing. Again, delete the contents of the "answer" cell, and mouse-select it once more. Type in the "equals" sign (=) and then click on cell A1. Type in the plus sign (+) and click on cell A2. Repeat this for the remaining cells and then press Enter. In this example you were able to "click" the cells to be added instead of typing their contents. But this was still too much typing. Let's do it the really easy way.

     Delete your answer, and give this cell one final click. Now click on the "sigma" character in your toolbar ( å ) and press Enter. The correct total will appear in the cell, and the formula =SUM(A1:A6) will appear above in the "editing box."

     The sigma symbol is the "autosum" icon, and it assumes you want to add all the contiguous numbers above whatever "answer cell" you've selected. Pressing Enter makes it take affect. However, you can edit the formula in case you only want to add the contents of certain cells.

     Let's say in the above example you only wanted to add the numbers in A4, A5 and A6. Click on A6 and hold down the left mouse button as you move your cursor up to include the two cells above. Press Enter to finish the action.

     The å will add rows of figures, as well as columns of figures. Type some numbers into cells A10 through F10. Click F11, click å and press Enter. If the program doesn't find numbers above the "answer cell" it looks to the left for some figures. If your answer cell happens to be below a column of numbers, as well as to the right of a row of numbers, sigma will add up the column. However, if you want the row numbers to be totaled, just click the first number to the left of the answer cell and select the others as described above.

     What if you want to add numbers in non-contiguous cells, say, those in A1, A3 and A5? Well, Excel is the only program I've found that lets you pick and choose non-attached cells for doing this. If you have Excel, type numbers into random cells and choose another for the "answer cell." Click the answer cell, and with your Ctrl key held down, click on any of the other numbers. Clicking sigma will add up only the ones you've selected.

Thursday
July 19
Using Macros in Various Versions of MSWorks

     For someone who does a lot of typing, using macros can be a great time-saver. There are different types of macros, but the most common is a phrase, say, a company name, which can generated with two or three keystrokes. If you're typing a letter that needs to have "North County Times" repeated several times, for instance, you can make this happen by just typing NCT.

     Here's how it's done in MSWorks versions preceding 6.0 and 2000:

     In a word processing document type your special text, say, your full name. Now highlight it with your mouse. Go to Edit, EasyText and click on New. Two boxes will appear. Your typed-out name will appear in the bottom box. Type your initials, or any "code" you choose, into the top box. Click Done.

     Type your initials in the future, followed by pressing your F3 key, and your full name will replace the "code." It will be in whatever size and style of font you're currently using. As for the "code" you choose, the letters can be in upper or lower case, and can be any combination of characters you like.

     If you prefer special formatting for your text, follow the above instructions and click Format. In addition to letting you choose a particular size and font style, you can also center the text or do other paragraph formatting. This means you can create a letterhead, complete with name, address, phone, or whatever, and insert it with just a few keystrokes.

     If you forget your chosen code, go to Edit, EasyText. A list of codes will be displayed. When clicked, a code will display its macro. Clicking on Insert in this view would be the same as hitting your F3 key. This is also where you'd go to change or delete an existing phrase.

     In Versions 6.0 and 2000 of MSWorks, EasyText was replaced with AutoCorrect. As before, type your special text, and mouse-select it. Now go to Tools, AutoCorrect and type your code. Be sure "Turn AutoCorrect on to replace text as you type" is checked. Click Add, OK. Now you won't have to use the F3 key. Any time you type the code, followed by a blank space, your special text will replace it.

     AutoCorrect was actually designed to correct common misspellings and to convert certain characters into special ones not available on your keyboard. For instance, if you type "cna" it will immediately change to "can" and typing ":)" will generate a round "Wingdings" smiley face.

     However, you need to be careful to choose a code that is not already a word or acronym of some kind. For instance, choosing "usa" as your code for "United States of America" would keep you from being able to type "USA." Likewise, "cna" means "Certified Nursing Assistant" in California, so you may want to edit some of the default corrections.

     In any case, you can insert your own spelling corrections. For instance, I've always had trouble spelling Wednesday, so I've set AutoCorrect to turn "wds" into "Wednesday." I've also set it to turn "manana" into "mañana" and "el nino" into "el niño."

     If you're wondering where I got the "ñ" just go to Insert, Special Character, and choose the font that matches the one you're using. Here you'll find the "cents," "degrees," "trademark" and other commonly used symbols, along with most of the special characters used in various European languages.

     As mentioned, AutoCorrect is not available in pre-6.0/2000 versions of MSWorks, nor is EasyText available in 6.0/2000. Omitting EasyText from the latter was a disappointment to me, since you could pre-format your special phrases to suit yourself. AutoCorrect changes words only in the same font and formatting one is currently using.

     However, in Version 2001, the MSWorks word processing application was replaced with MSWord, which has both features available.

Tuesday
July 17
Windows Explorer "View" Options

     One of the things that can be most useful when working your way around Windows Explorer is to take advantage of its various "View" options.  The default view is "Large Icons," which means your listings are arranged like "postage stamps" with folders listed alphabetically from left to right across the top, followed by files listed alphabetically below.

     If you go to View, Small Icons, the layout remains the same, but you'll be able to see a lot more files and folders at one time.  By choosing View, List, these small icons will be arranged alphabetically from top to bottom, beginning with folders and followed by file names.

     By choosing View, Details, you'll be able to see the date and time each folder or file was last modified, as well as the size of each file in kilobytes.  This will show, for instance, if a file can fit on a 3.5" floppy disk, which is limited to 1440 kilobytes.  This is also handy for comparing sizes of, say, photo files, which can be saved in different formats such as BMP, TIF, or variations of JPG.  If the photo looks the same in all these formats, choose the smallest to use as an e-mail attachment.

     This "Details" view can also illustrate interesting comparisons in text document sizes.  A PC Chat article, for instance, when composed in MSWord and saved with a .DOC extension, is about 27 kilobytes in size.  By saving it as a plain text file, with a .TXT extension, the size is only 4 kilobytes.  Saving documents as plain text files means you can get lots more data on a disk.  However, you do this at the cost of giving up special formatting, such as using different sizes and styles of fonts.

     Another useful feature of the Windows Explorer "View" menu is "Arrange Icons," which lets you choose "Name," "Size," "Type" or "Date."  The default is "Name," which lists the file names alphabetically.  Choosing "Date" will list the files by their most recent creation or modification date and time.  This can be helpful if you've lost track of a certain file, but know you worked on it within, say, the last day or two.

     Arranging icons by "Size" can be helpful if you're getting low on disk space and looking for large files that can be deleted or moved to another disk.  Be careful, however, that you don't delete any file that's an integral part of your operating system or your application software.  

     Files which can be safely deleted are ones you've created, such as word processing documents, etc.  Downloaded "setup" files can also be deleted, once their programs have been installed.  Files with ZIP or MIM extensions can be deleted, once their contents have been extracted and put where you want them.  Backup files can always be eliminated if you're sure they're no longer needed.

     Choosing "Type" can be helpful if you're looking for, say a certain JPG file which is located in a folder with perhaps dozens of other types of files.  "Type" arranges all the BMP, DOC, JPG, and WPS files, for instance, alphabetically in their own groups.

     By the way, if you're not seeing these three-letter extensions appended to your files' names, Win98+ users should go to View, Folder Options, View and UNcheck "Hide File Extensions for Known File Types."  Win95 users will find this under View, Options, View.  These extensions tell us what kinds of files we're seeing, and why Microsoft has them hidden by default has always been a mystery to me.

     If you go to View, Folder Options, File Types you'll find illustrations of the various icons used in Windows, along with a description of what each one might mean.  I say "might" because many of the icons have multiple meanings listed.  In any case, it's important to become familiar with what the various three-letter extensions mean.  You can find a list of them on this page.

Tuesday
July 10
Some Paradoxes in Microsoft Products

     As a long-time user of Microsoft products, I continue to be perplexed by some of the paradoxes they offer us.  As an example, Windows95+ has always come with a few icons on the opening "Desktop" screen, which are intended to make certain tasks easier to perform.  For instance, the "Recycle Bin" is always there so that unwanted files can be dragged into it.  This is nice, but the same result can be achieved by clicking the target file and pressing one's "Delete" key - or - you can right-click the file and choose "Delete" from the popup menu.

     In any case, where is one likely to find the unwanted files that are destined for the recycle bin?  Usually they're out of view, and need to be located using the "Windows Explorer."  However, Microsoft doesn't put a "Windows Explorer" icon on our Desktops.  Yes, they've put the "Internet Explorer" icon there, but this doesn't get us into the "file management" area of our hard drives.  What we're expected to do is right-click "Start" or "My Computer" and choose "Explore" - or - if we have a "Windows" keyboard, we can click "E" while holding down the "Windows key."  Having a ready-to-use "Windows Explorer" icon on our Desktop makes a lot more sense.

     You put one there by getting into Windows Explorer, using one of the above methods, and then double-clicking the yellow "Windows" folder.  Inside it you'll normally find two files named "Explorer."  One has a little "computer" icon, while the other has a "magnifying glass" icon.  Drag either of these onto the "Desktop" icon, displayed at the very top of the list of icons in the left window pane.  In the future, double-clicking the icon you chose will get you immediately into "Windows Explorer."

     Another paradox: after you've found the file you want deleted, using Windows Explorer, the Desktop's "Recycle Bin" may be out of view.  Well, it can also be seen near the bottom of the list in the left window pane; but hitting your "Delete" key is still easier.

     Back on the Desktop you'll usually find a few icons with a little bent arrow in their lower left corners.  You may think that dragging them into the Recycle Bin will get rid of them.  Yes, they'll be gone; but you will have only deleted a "shortcut" to each file.  The underlying files will still be inside "Windows Explorer" and need to be deleted.

     A parodox of MSWord, is that the program comes with lots of icons at the top of a document page, most of which you'll never use.  However, one of the icons you would use frequently has been left off: the "Ruler" icon.  Yes, you can go to View, Ruler to make the ruler appear or disappear, but a Ruler icon does the job faster.  

     Fix this by going to Tools, Customize, View, and dragging the Ruler icon onto your toolbar.  While you're there, drag all the toolbar icons you never use into this dialog box.  This will make the remaining ones easier to fine, and will give you more "white space" for your document. Eliminated icons can always be returned to the toolbar by reversing the above procedure.

     Another paradox is that in Word's "Print/Layout" view, a vertical ruler always appears along with the horizontal ruler.  I use the latter for setting tab stops and adjusting margins, but I've yet to find a use for the former, which just takes up valuable "white space."  To fix this, go to Tools, Options, View, and UNcheck "vertical Ruler."

     The MSWorks word processor has a horizontal ruler only.  Yet, like MSWord, it never comes with a Ruler icon on its toolbar.  This can be fixed in earlier versions, such as 4.0, by going to Tools, Customize Toolbar, View and dragging the Ruler icon onto your toolbar.  The paradox here is that newer versions of Works, such as 6.0 and 2000, have no "Customize Toolbar" command, nor a Ruler icon.  You're back to using View, Ruler.

Sunday
July 8
Comments & Questions from Readers

     When I wrote recently about using MapQuest and Switchboard to prepare maps and driving instructions, Les Hotchkiss wrote to say he prefers Mapblast.com because it has "LineDrive," a feature which just shows the main roads to get from one place to another. John Nigro wrote to say he uses Mappy.com for generating maps and routes in foreign countries.

     When I suggested right-clicking and copying a map and then pasting it into a word processing document, in order to avoid printing all the surrounding advertising, Billy Dean pointed out that most printer software offers a "Selection" option. Right; click on the graphic to "select" it and choose Selection when you go to File, Print. This is also very useful when you want to print, say, a single sentence or paragraph in a lengthy text document.

     Bing Forbing wrote that right-clicking a map did NOT display a menu which included "Copy." My error; this works fine with Internet Explorer, but Netscape requires us to use "Save Image As," whereby we name the graphic and store it in a folder, from whence it can be copied and pasted into the target document.

     When I suggested saving colored ink by converting a multi-color map to black and white, Ken Druhot wrote to say that he uses his printer options to switch to black ink only. This works, but the resulting shades of gray can use up the black ink pretty fast. Image-editing software, such as Windows PaintBrush, lets you convert to pure black and white. However, this means that streets drawn in a light color may drop out altogether. It pays to experiment.

     Gregg Wright wrote to say he conserves colored ink by copying and pasting my multi-colored newsletters into MSWord, where he "selects all" (Ctrl+A) and tells Word to print everything in black.

     Hank Mason said when he followed my guide to select, copy and paste turn-by-turn driving instructions into a blank MSWorks word processor document, only the top line of text appeared. I tried this in Works 4.0 and got the same results. However, in Works 6.0 and 2000, the data appeared in an easy-to-read table, just as it had been shown on the Switchboard Web page.

     In any case, I was able to make everything appear in Works 4.0 by going to Edit, Paste Special, Unformatted Text. "Unformatted" meant that the text wasn't plotted in a table, but it was still easy to read.

     Regarding my pointers on "zipping" and "unzipping" e-mail attachments, Art Rideout suggested I advise readers to avoid attachments altogether, since they are the most-used method for spreading viruses. This is true, and is also why we should all keep our anti-virus software updated as often as possible.

     Personally, I never open attachments that arrive with an .EXE or .VBS extension and I only open a .DOC file if I asked for it, since MSWord is capable of carrying viruses embedded in their macros.

     Art also mentioned the incompatibility of many files transferred between PC and Mac users, and said he normally restricts his sending of attachments to JPG photos, which most PC users can open without problems.

     My favorite method of sending photos is to paste them right inside an e-mail letter. Well, AOL and CompuServe users can see each others' pasted-in images; but not all e-mail systems are yet intercompatible in this regard. However, photos pasted into an Outlook Express e-mail can be seen by other users of Outlook Express, as well by Hotmail users.

     As for Mac and PC incompatibility, places such as Kinkos can often make the conversion; and you don't need to drive to their stores; the graphics can be sent and received as e-mail attachments.

     Art Rideout summarized by saying his favorite way to share multiple photos is to upload them to a Web site where others can go to see them and/or download them. Frank Russell wrote to say that his favorite web site for doing this is ClubPhoto.com.

     Regarding e-mail attachments, in my silk screen printing business (Banner Sign Co.) they have become the main method of exchanging photos, sketches and other kinds of artwork with customers. We also depend on receiving spreadsheet and database documents from our corporate clients to keep us updated on new openings of their far-flung offices. In other words, email attachments have become an essential tool in many businesses, and we couldn't do without them.

Tuesday
July 3
More on Faxing + Using WinZip

     I continue to get questions about faxing from one's computer.  After installing a fax program such as WinFax, an additional "printer" will be displayed when you use the File, Print command of whatever application you're in.  By clicking the fax icon, the "printer" then becomes the fax machine connected to whichever fax number you've chosen.

    Incoming faxes can be received on your computer and printed out on your inkjet or laser printer. You can choose to have incoming faxes received automatically or when you say it's okay.  The various fax programs' instructions will explain all this.

    I recently tried another shareware fax program which I found quite impressive.  VentaFax is a program from Russia, which only costs $20 to register, after a 30-day free trial, and whose URL is www.ventafax.ru/.  However, this link might be all in Russian.  Use Google or Ask Jeeves to find the page in English.

    If you want to use your computer for sending and/or receiving faxes, without installing fax software, there are web services available such as "eFax.com" or "J2.com."  These web sites have a variety of different plans available, including receiving faxes and voicemail which you can access at your convenience.  

    Receiving messages is normally free, but there are various charges for sending faxes or voice mail.  They also offer fax "broadcasting" services, if you want to send a fax to multiple phone numbers.

    Although I do 95% of my correspondence via email, I've used my PC for fax transmittals for years and can't imagine being without it.  What are some of the pros and cons?

    Well, I work at home and send faxes to my business when I want the office staff to notice the message the moment it arrives.  However, this is a toll call, and I can bypass this expense by sending email - but email is not necessarily accessed right after I send it.

    I generally use faxes for sending and receiving sketches of artwork I prepare at home, and send finished, full-color artwork as email attachments.  Fax resolution is limited to 200 DPI (dots per inch) in plain black and white, whereas artwork sent as an email attachment is ready for high-resolution quality printing.

    Speaking of email attachments, I get lots of mail from folks who've received them, but who say they can't open them.  I've explained in prior articles that one needs the same software in which the attachment was created (or a program with which the attachment is compatible) and have given lots of examples.  (All of this year's and last year's PC Chats are available at www.pcdon.com.)

    However, most questions continue to be about attachments with a .ZIP or .MIM extension.  These extensions tell us that the attachment contains one or more files which have been "compressed" for faster phone line transmission and that they need to be "decompressed" with a program like WinZip.  

    If you have WinZip installed, double-clicking the downloaded attachment will execute the program and decompress the files, as well as suggest a destination folder for them.  Some ISPs, including AOL and CompuServe, automatically decompress "zip" files for you when you log off.

    If you wish to attach multiple files to an outgoing email, they will be automatically compressed into one "zip" file as they're being transmitted.  However, if you find that attaching files one by one can be time-consuming and sometimes confusing, you can "zip" them all in advance, thus creating a single file to attach.

    If you have WinZip, there are various ways to do this, but here's the easiest:  Right-click one of the files you wish to attach and choose "Add to Zip."  If the file you chose was, say, a photo named "NewCar.jpg" a file named "NewCar.zip" will be created when you click the "Add" button on the dialog box which opens.

    Right-click the other files you want to send, choosing "Add to Zip" for each one.  You'll be asked if you want to add them to "NewCar.zip."  Say yes by clicking "Add."  After adding your final file, exit the dialog box and you'll find a "NewCar.zip" icon in whichever folder "NewCar.jpg" is located, ready to be attached to your outgoing email.  I usually have all the target files on the Desktop to make them easier to find.

    If you need WinZip, it's a shareware program that can be downloaded from winzip.com.  Ask for the "evaluation version" and there will be no charge to download it.  However, you'll be reminded that it's "shareware" each time you use it.  The "I Agree" button simply means you understand they'd like you to offer to pay for the program; but you can continue to freely use it as long as you keep clicking the button.

Sunday
July 1
Free Maps & Directions + Saving Ink

    Have you used any of the Internet's free "Maps, Streets & Directions" services? I find them indispensable when traveling outside my local area. After entering your home address and destination address, you can choose a turn-by-turn set of driving instructions, or a map of the driving route, or both.

    You can ask for directions to an address anywhere in the country, or you can name nearby landmarks such as airports, schools, hospitals, or street intersections, in lieu of an exact address.

    I'd used MapQuest for a long time, but switched to Switchboard after discovering that the latter draws larger, easier-to-read maps. Switchboard is also one of the oldest, most well-established "Yellow Pages" and "White Pages" services on the 'net for finding people and businesses. Go to www.switchboard.com.

    However, all this free service comes at a price; everything is surrounded by advertising. Nonetheless, I find this a small price to pay for being able to use these services. Furthermore, you can print out all the data you want without printing the ads.

    A friend recently showed me some cross-country maps he'd printed, along with their turn-by-turn directions. He said the maps were great, but complained that his colored ink cartridges were being used up very rapidly.

    What he had done was simply hit the "Print" button on his browser, which caused everything on the web page to be printed, including all the ads. Here's how you can print the data you want while using a minimum of ink:

    Use your mouse to highlight the driving directions from top to bottom. Do Ctrl+C to Copy the text. Open a blank word processing page and do Ctrl+V to Paste in the data. Do Ctrl+S to Save the document, giving it a filename.

    If you have trouble getting your mouse to stop right where you want it while highlighting the text, do this: click at the beginning of the text and then put your mouse away. Hold down the Shift key and use your Down Arrow to begin highlighting. If necessary, use the other arrow keys to fine-tune where the selection ends. For large blocks of text, the Page Down and Page Up keys can also be used.

    Now you can edit the actual driving instructions to save more ink. Delete any steps you're already familiar with, such as the first several "turns" to get you from your home to the freeway. If any of the instructions are printed with "bold" type, changing them to "normal" will save ink.

    Okay, now let's do the map. Right-click it and choose "Copy." Back on your word-processing page, do Ctrl+V to Paste the map into place. Now you have your map and text together with no web page advertising to use up your colored ink. But wait; the map itself is in color. Do we need all these colors, or would a black and white map work just as well?

    If your word processor is MSWord, you can change the map to black and white by clicking on View, Toolbars, Picture. Click the map and then click the "Color" icon in the Picture toolbar, which will display a menu that includes "Black & White."

    If you don't have MSWord you can use the Windows PaintBrush program to convert the map from colors to monochrome. Right-click the web page map and choose Copy. Go to Start, Run and type PBrush to open PaintBrush. Do Ctrl+V to Paste the map onto a blank "canvas."

    Then click Image, Attributes, Black & White. Finally, do Ctrl+A (to select All the picture) followed by doing Ctrl+C to Copy the picture. Back in your word processor do Ctrl+V to Paste the picture onto the page.

    While in PaintBrush, or any other image-editing program you might prefer, you can crop and delete any parts of the map that you find superfluous, thus saving even more ink.

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