April 1999                                                                                                   

Web Master Wanderings
By Curt Potsic, Space Coast PC Users Group

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SCPCUG Web Master Curt Potsic


Have you noticed the SCPCUG has been getting a little recognition lately? Mark DeCotis' Online column appears every Wednesday in the Florida Today newspaper. Mark is the editor of their website ( He gave us a mention in his Feb 10th column. I had responded to a question Mark posed as to "What would be the top two or three tips you would give someone who is brand new to the Internet and the Web?". My answer was basically (1) Attend a SCPCUG Internet Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting, (2) Visit WebNovice Online at, and (3) Join a users group. I pointed out that the Space Coast PC Users Group logo says it all, "Users Helping Users".

At this point I might mention that as SCPCUG Web Master I get phone calls and e-mail every week from members with questions. The great thing about being part of a group like this is there is strength in numbers. If I don't know the answer to your question, chances are very good I can steer you to someone who does.

In February Florida Today newspaper started a Technology News section. It appears in the Wednesday edition. You can also read it online at Check out the archives at Several of our members have been featured as "Netizens", among them Dave Nottingham, Ron Ingraham, and Ed Hughes. Be sure and click on their thumbnail pictures for large color versions. Hopefully we will be seeing more members featured in the future.

As you know in last month's (Feb/Mar) Web Master Wanderings I devoted the major portion of my column to a review of a program called "MagicSpell" ( Rather than give a simple one paragraph review I chose to go into detail of how I installed it, what happens along the way, and what I thought of it. I tried to write that review from the point of view of you and me, the program user. I did this to ease the apprehension of installing a new program and not knowing what it's going to do once it starts writing to your hard drive. This is always a major concern of mine. I hate just blindly clicking on the executable file. Some companies have "Frequently Asked Questions" sections on their sites which help but I think you get the most valuable information when the company also has a Newsgroup as 2B System does for MagicSpell. Having a Program Newsgroup can be dangerous for companies as they run the risk of negative comments if the program is not good. Perhaps this is why so many companies do not have Program Newsgroups. I have seen where some companies have a Newsgroup but do not monitor it. It is left as an open forum for users to answer users. I think that is the wrong approach. 2B System has done it correctly by monitoring the MagicSpell Newsgroup. A company input is essential as who knows more about the program than the people that created it.

By now you probably get the idea I would like to know as much about a program as I can before installing it. Maybe it's the engineer in me. Some friends have said I'm foolish for wasting all that time investigating before installing, but that philosophy has kept me out of trouble. I have never had to reinstall Windows 95 or had a major crash. A site that helps is Sander's KeyScreen Previewer ( As they state, "With thousands of software applications available on the Internet, how do you decide which one has all the features you are looking for?" Sander's KeyScreen Previewer will give you a "sneak peek" to help you decide by showing you key screenshots. They only have the top 431 Shareware and Freeware applications with 2,100+ screenshots but hey, it would be an impossible job to track everything out there. Sander's does have a preview of ICQ 98a ( and gives you no less then 10 screenshots. Wish there were more sites like this on the Internet.

Getting back to SCPCUG recognition. That is where we started in case you got lost along the way. My writing (like my mind) has a tendency to wander. Anyway, after I had posted the Feb/Mar Wanderings column (with the review of MagicSpell) on our SCPCUG website, I thought to myself I should inform 2B System. I sent them an e-mail and received a response within a few hours saying "thank you for an excellent review" and that they had placed it on their web site at They not only put the complete review (along with my picture) on their website, but also provided links back to the SCPCUG Home page and to my original article. Wow! This really brought home to me the power of the Internet. 2B System is located in Seoul, Korea. Only on the Internet can your voice be heard around the world! The bottom line is all of this recognition has more than doubled our SCPCUG website traffic.

Got a new Search Engine for you! It's called Google ( I mentioned it at the Internet SIG in February and Dave Nottingham had it look up "SCPCUG". It has two buttons. One says "Search" which brings up all the links it finds and the other says "I Feel Lucky". Dave clicked the "Lucky" button and it immediately gave us the SCPCUG Home page. How about that? It knew us! Google is different. One of the nice features is when the response to your search comes up it features a fast cached link. Click on that and you will get an almost instantaneous version of the web page as cached on Google's server when they last visited that page. This is great if the page no longer exists or the page's server is down. You can still get a cached version (maybe several months old) from Google. You can read more about how Google works at

Got some more catching up to do. A couple of Wanderings columns back I discussed the new version of ICQ, ICQ99a. (ICQ99a has now been officially released. Get it at There are also new sound schemes at I mentioned what a great program ICQ is for communication as it lets you know when your friends are on line. Well I received an ICQ message from one of our members informing me that ICQ has played a great part in his life. Here is part of his message: "I was reading your article and agree with you fully. ICQ is one of my most valuable programs, and it has been especially helpful in another way. My youngest daughter and I had not spoken ten words in ten years, and now we chat most every day. All because of ICQ. Lets tell more people". Now that really made my day! That's the kind of feedback I like. Any other members out there using a program they think is great? Tell me about it so we can share the knowledge with the group. Let's put those logo words of "Users Helping Users" into action.

Before I end this month's session let me send you off with another program to try. Do you play audio CDs on your PC while writing to a friend, cruising the Internet, or perhaps doing your Tax Return? Windows 95 has a built-in CD Player but it will not tell you the CD title, artist, or track contents unless you type them in. If you have a significant audio CD collection that could prove to be quite a chore. How about a program that will do all the work for you almost instantly? And the best part is it is Freeware! The program is called CDmax and it's available at

CDmax Main Screen

CDmax looks a lot like the Windows 95 CD Player but with additional features (like a built-in volume control). It installs separately and does not overwrite you Windows 95 CD Player. This is a small program. The zipped download file is only 580 KB and installation is a breeze. You can minimize it to an icon in the System Tray rather than it taking up Task Bar space. Right click the icon and up pops a menu showing its many capabilities.CDmax Pop-up Menu in Sys Tray

The key to this great player is the Internet. Connect to the Internet and click on the CDmax.exe. Make sure the space in front of your CD-ROM Drive is clear first as the tray pops out automatically for you to insert an audio CD. Once you have the CD inserted and tray closed, click on the "Retrieve" button. You will be whisked away to The Net's Largest Database of Audio CD Title, Track and Song Information (CDDB) at Your CD will be checked and all the data for title, artist, tracks, and category will be downloaded to your hard drive in a file format that CDmax understands (use NotePad to read the file contents if you are curious). It is a marvel to watch. The whole operation from connect to disconnect is automatic and takes less than 5 seconds. Some of your CDs may not be in this CDDB. I found a few in my collection. For those you will have to type in the information. But here is where you can help. CDmax has a "Submit" button. You can contribute this new information to the CDDB for the benefit of everybody else. I tried it and my submission was accepted at the same fast speed as when I retrieved data. Once you have retrieved your CD information from the CDDB, an Internet connection is no longer required. Now you can pop an audio CD into your CD-ROM Drive, start CDmax, and play your music the way you like because all the CD information is immediately accessible.

Note: Web Master Wanderings articles contain links to external web sites. Web addresses are constantly changing. There is no guarantee that the information links provided in this article will remain unbroken or up-to-date beyond the date that this article is originally published.