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 (http://www.flatoday.com/).
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 http://webnovice.com/,
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 http://www.floridatoday.com/news/tech/index.htm.
Check out the archives at http://www.floridatoday.com/news/tech/archives/1999a/index.htm.
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" (http://www.2bsys.com/MagicSpell/index.htm).
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
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
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 (http://www.keyscreen.com/KeyScreen(s)7/icq.htm)
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 http://www.2bsys.com/MagicSpell/review.htm.
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 http://www.google.com/more.html.
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 http://www.icq.com/download/.
There are also new sound schemes at http://www.icq.com/sounds/sound-schemes.html.)
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
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.
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 http://www.cddb.com/.
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.