BEAR'S COMPUTER ARTICLES

(Pic. of man at computer.)
C T S:

Carpal Tunnel
Syndrome
(Pic. of man at computer.)
DR. GEEK

Re the
Y2K Virus
(Pic. of man at computer.)
FREENETS

Low Cost
Internet
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GEOWORKS

The Other
Windows
(Pic. of man at computer.)
HOW FAST IS SLOW?

Do You
Need A Pentium?
(Pic. of man at computer.)
PORTABILITY

Are Portable Computers
Really Portable?

CTS

by

BRENT A. HALLS

PROPER POSTURE(Pic. of man at computer.)
CTS can be prevented and/or cured with proper posture. Feet flat on the floor, upper legs and lower arms parallel with the floor. Wrists above the wrist rest. In this picture the keyboard should actually be a few inches higher than it is. The back legs under most keyboards are too short. To obtain a proper angle tape a non metallic object under the back edge.

CTS or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is an advent of the technological era. Never heard of ten years ago, it is now a medical problem that afflicts thousands of people.

What is CTS?

From the dictionary: CARPAL:, Not car pool, to do with the carpus. The carpus is the group of small bones between the hand and the forearm, id. your wrist.

TUNNEL: Channel or conduit. The passageway in which the carpus moves. Like the choke cable in a car, the inner cable, the carpus, moving within the cable housing, the skin and tissues of your wrist.

SYNDROME: Symptoms that indicate a specific condition or disease. The specific condition is the damage that is caused to the tissue surrounding the carpus when it tries to move back and forth within the tunnel while the size of the tunnel is restricted.

Ie. If you pinch the cable housing the inner cable won't move and you won't be able to adjust the choke of your car.

What causes the restriction of the carpus housing? You do.

When you rest your wrists on the edge of the computer keyboard you compress the tunnels of your wrists.

I use WordPerfect to do my compositions and spend a lot of time at the keyboard but have never had the problem until I got the game SIM CITY 2000.

OOH, was my arm sore.

Notice I said my arm, not my wrist. Instead of a mouse I use a track ball and I was resting my arm on the pull out leaf of my desk. Playing SIM CITY for hour after hour, it is very addictive, building streets and subdivisions, my thumb was moving the ligaments through my wrists along my forearm to my elbow. The weight of my arm was compressing the tunnel against the desk. My entire forearm was suffering from CTS.

As a result of CTS many companies have invented many products to overcome CTS. Padded wrist rests, two part keyboards, ergonomic mice, etc.

I measured the height of an old desk and an old typewriter and measured the angle of the keys on the typewriter. I then cut notches into the sides of the center drawer of an old wooden desk so that my computer keyboard would be at the same angle and height above the floor as the keys on a typewriter.

Then with a straight backed wooden chair I practiced the proper sitting posture as taught to us in typing class, back straight, legs level, feet flat on the floor. Next I set my track ball on the very edge of the desk so there was no place to rest my arm.

Consequently my CTS went away and has never come back.

A lot of new keyboards, particularly those on new style notebooks, have rest pads built in front of them. A lot of companies offer padded wrist rests.

These are not the answer. proper posture is the answer. Don't slouch and don't rest your wrists, anywhere.

If you have CTS it will go away, and if you don't have it, you won't get it, if you use proper posture instead of wrist rests.

THE END

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Dr. GEEK

by

FRED BARNES

This letter was published in the `99 Oct. issue of Computer Sense.

Dear Dr. Geek.

The other day a friend of mine told me that the Y2K problem can be solved by going into control panel in Windows and changing the setting for the date. Apparently all Windows comes with the date as xx/xx/xx but you can change the year to xxxx/xx/xx.

He said the Y2K problem stems from the fact that the year is set as 99 and won't click over to 00 but if you set the year as 1999 it will click over to 2000.

Is this true? I thought the problem was in the Bios of the computer.

I realize that in modern computers Windows does control the time clock setting but what if your computer is DOS based and Windows is just another program in your Hard drive? Can you go into the bios and change the date the same way?

Yours Truly

Lee A. Wood writing as, Fred Barnes

THE END
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GEOWORKS (THE OTHER WINDOWS)

by

LEE A. WOOD

I often hear that Windows was developed from Macintosh but no one ever mentions GeoWorks. It set me to wondering, whatever happened to that program which came before Windows and after Macintosh.

IBM, Pal, and Tandy computers used it as their OS (operating system) although, like Windows, it still worked over DOS.

GeoWorks was designed to run on any OS; DOS, DR DOS, OS/2, or Linux. GeoWorks also designed a `Warp' version to be used by Commodore. Now, I wonder where OS/2 got the name `Warp', or is that just coincidence?

PC/GEOS, Geos stood for Graphic Environment Operating System, was originally designed by Berkeley Software.

Originally distributed by Creative Micro Designs Inc. GeoWorks was later distributed by Ensemble Inc., and then New Deal. It was finally laid to rest by Breadbox Computers in Africa who, in the end, were writing add on programs for it.

At that time I was working in a computer store and dabbling with the new DR DOS and Windows 3, but still working with DOS. I attended a computer trade show and won three packages of GeoWorks from IBM. I didn't have the basic program which was PC/GEOS Desktop but the three programs, Designer, Publisher, and Writer, were stand alone and contained most of the features that Desktop had.

If one were to open Desktop you would find three icons, beginners, intermediate, and advanced. By choosing the icon that matched your computer expertise you could enter the desktop at different levels of difficulty.

If you opened the advanced level you would swear it was written by the same person that wrote Windows. There were all the same icons; draw, cardfile, write, etc.

They had different names though, the card computer_articles was called GeoDex, and there was GeoWrite, GeoDraw, F M Radio, GeoCalc, GeoPlaner, and Games, where you could find Solitary and Tetris, just like in Windows.

If you ran the two programs side by side the first thing you would notice was the quality of the picture. GeoWorks was much grainier than Windows. The reason for this was that GeoWorks was only running 256 colours and was designed for any monitor from CGA to SVGA or any video card without having to use special drivers. GeoWorks believed in the old adage, `KISS', Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Like most GeoWorks users I continued to use it for years until I upgraded to Vesa Local bus and GeoWorks would no longer load. However, that may not have been the fault of a faster motherboard but the fact that I had loaded the program too many times. It was not uncommon in those days for software writers to write in copywrite safeguards, after you had copied a program more than three times it would fail to function.

The big popularity of GeoWorks over Windows was its speed. Though it was true WYSIWIG it wasn't a hard drive hog and you didn't have to upgrade to a 386. GeoWorks would run on a 286, it was originally designed for an XT with 640 K of RAM, and it only needed ten meg of hard drive.

Another reason for its popularity and the main reason I wish I could still run it was the individual work groups. GeoPlaner was a calendar in which you could store birthdays and reminders. It was much more user friendly and looked more like a calendar than the Windows equivalent.

Also the GeoDex, complete with auto dialer, looked more like a Roll o Dex with its alphabetized cards and simple sorting system rather than the card file that Windows uses.

GeoDraw could use any clip art from Corel. GeoCalc was identical to Clarisworks. GeoWrite came with the most extensive spell checker and thesaurus of its day.

Because of mass marketing by Microsoft, GeoWorks soon lost its appeal to other software publishers and very few peripheral programs were ever written to work within it. Yet within it, it was a superior program.

For a very few years GeoWorks won the competition with Windows in Australia, Germany, Switzerland, and Africa where it finally, as it had in Canada, bowed out to Microsoft.

There is still a GeoWorks website but it hasn't been upgraded since `97.

So I wonder, did Windows come from Macintosh, or from GeoWorks?

THE END
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HOW FAST IS SLOW?

by

LEE A. WOOD

The other morning at our weekly staff meeting I brought up the fact that our corporate web site was too graphical and very slow loading. Immediately I was put down by other members of my office who said that the site wasn't slow. They said that it was my computer that was slow.

In this day of Pentium 2 with MMX and 350 Mhz Motherboards sporting 256 Meg of seventy-two bit ram running at sixty nano seconds, hardrives of five giga bytes running at exceptionally high seek times, seventy-two bit video cards with ten meg of video ram, and seventeen inch high res monitors running at seventy-two Mhz, connected to the internet with a fifty-six K baud modem, is it any wonder that writers and designers of web sites say to all their customers, "Look at all the beautiful graphics I can use to display your company".

And that's the name of the game. Web designers are in business and like any other business they have to sell the latest and greatest. Obviously if the web designer goes to a customer and says, "We could design your web site with all these fancy, beautiful graphics and pictures but we would rather just sell you this simple design with a couple of black and white buttons and a lot of text", he isn't going to stay in business very long.

But, with the latest and greatest, are their customers really getting their money's worth?

How many of these busy executives have taken the time to look at their web site? How many of them have the latest upgraded computer to actually view their new web site properly.

A friend of mine who has a business in Maple Ridge is a good example. He contracted to have a web site designed. He never saw his site until he was at my house for supper and I brought it up on the computer for him. Being a typical business man he doesn't have time to learn how to run the computer at home. That's for his children to use.

Now if the customer of the web designer doesn't have the most sophisticated computer on the market or the knowledge to run it why should he assume that his customers are any different.

Going back to my staff meeting. While two or three of my fellow salesmen were telling me that my computer was too slow others at the table were wondering what the hell we were talking about. Why is speed significant?

The speed at which a computer runs is important but more important is the speed of the video card and the monitor, ie, how long will the viewer wait for the picture to appear on the screen in front of him. One second, two seconds, three seconds? Click on the back button and move to another web site. You have just lost a potential customer because it took too long for your graphics to come up on his antiquated 386.

So what do you do? Do you run out and buy him a new Pentium? Do you tell him, politely, that he is in the dark ages and should up grade? Do you explain to him why he should have a faster computer? Do you even know who he is?

You can sit back with your fancy Pentium and imagine that the world is beating a path to your web site with their Pentiums but what about the person in another country who just may be a potential customer? How do you tell him not to click to another web site because he is waiting for your graphics to enlarge. Oh sure he could click on the button that says `No graphics' but then what was the point of putting the graphics in the first place.

You can justify to yourself that only a small portion of the public have old slow computers and if they can't afford a new computer they can't afford to be your customer. But is that true?

THE END
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FREENETS

by

LEE A. WOOD

VANCOUVER
COMMUNITY
NET
(Building at 41 Dunsmuir St.)
The VCN has its offices, like several other non profit organizations, in the heritage building at 411 Dunsmuir St.

While the computer world has advanced exponentially over the past few years there are still many of us who struggle, I use the word facetiously, with DOS.

Most of the younger generation don't know what DOS is, or what it does, but for many computer users it is all that is needed.

I remember using WordPerfect 4.2 in my first computer. While writing, I could type so fast that the computer would start beeping to tell me that I was giving it more input than it could handle. In the mornings I would turn on my computer and, while my XT searched through one hundred pages of text, stored on a mini (5 1/4") floppy, to find where I had left off the previous day, I would make coffee.

Since the advent of the 286 it is impossible for me to type faster than any computer on the market. So why do I need to run out and buy the latest and greatest Pentium? Without a doubt the computer manufacturers would like to see me, and every other computer user, do just that.

Though I come home to find my son has left a message, scrolling across my screen, in alternating colours, for people like myself, a modern word processor and a 486 is far more power than we will ever need.

But what about E Mail and the internet?

All across this great nation there are things called Freenets. Recently I just assembled a 486 from some spare parts and sent it to a friend in Prince George, B. C. It does not have all the bells and whistles but a basic computer and freenet will allow him, and his children, to enjoy the world of the web.

In Prince George, Edmonton, Montreal, and many other cities in Canada you will find a freenet.

Freenets are non profit organizations and offer internet service to those who can't afford a commercial account or a high speed computer. For those who don't have a computer there are freenet terminals in the local library.

For beginners in the computer world the Freenets offer basic computer lessons and for the beginners in the world of the web the Freenets offer free courses in cruising.

In Vancouver the Freenet has changed its name to the Vancouver Community Net, or VCN, and you are allowed on line access for ninety minutes per day. A donation of twenty-five dollars or more will give you a one year membership. You don't have to be a member to use their services.

Freenets are generally UNIX based and basic DOS programs such as BITCOM and PROCOMM PLUS are all you need to access the web or to send and receive E Mail.

For long letters, of which, as my friends will tell you, I send many, I use a text based word processor, then upload my finished product to the VCN. Once there it is a simple matter to send it anywhere in the world at no cost.

As for cruising the web, there are many sites that are made with basic HTML and are fully accessible with a DOS based browser. Many sites that use FRAMES or JAVA can still be viewed by clicking on the highlighted words, whatever they may be. Some will work and some won't but don't be scared off by the words, TO VIEW THIS SITE YOU REQUIRE FRAMES. Just ignore the warning and try all the highlighted words. Often I will open whole pages of text and continue my research. If I can't get into any of the pages I simply find another web site.

One of the big advantages of using a text based browser is that you don't have to worry about what your children are watching. There are no pictures.

For those who want pictures the VCN has recently added the option of colour graphics. One can still use a simple computer but a minimum of a 386 with a 14.4 modem is recommended. You will have to break away from DOS and use Windows but you can use 3.1 without having to bog down your machine with 95 or 98.

Though a 486 will bog down on some websites and thirty-two meg, or less, of RAM may cause your computer to freeze up, you can visit most websites. Using older versions of NETSCAPE or EXPLORER you can speed things up by telling the browser not to show graphics until you get to the page you want to look at. Then it is a simple matter of telling the browser that you want graphics, and refreshing the page.

If you have a company in the community and would like to sponsor the VCN you can advertise your business on the VCN `LINKS' page.

The VCN also provides the opportunity for non profit organizations to have their own website.

For more information on the VCN, or other Freenets, contact the VCN office at (604) 257-3811 or visit their website at www.vcn.bc.ca If you have a DOS based browser the dial up number is (604) 638-0189.

END

RELATED WEB SITES

(vcn_logo)
VCN

VANCOUVER COMMUNITY NETWORK
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PORTABILITY

by

LEE A. WOOD

This article, with photo, was published in Vancouver, Canada, in the `01 / April issue of Computer Tracker.

(Pic. of notebook computer.)
Only a 386 sx, but in some ways more advanced than
newer notebooks. A four button ball, clipped to the side,
is much more convenient than a touch pad.
The front mounted keyboard prevents CTS.

A few years ago, friends gave me a notebook computer for my birthday. It was used. The battery was old and would only hold a half hour charge. I still use it to this day because it serves its purpose and I have been unable to find a portable computer to replace it.

You will note that I emphasized the word portable. Finding a notebook computer, not to be confused with a laptop computer, is not difficult, not that it is that hard to find laptop computers. Walk into most any computer store and the salesman will gladly sell you a laptop computer, not that they have one but they will show you a notebook and tell you that it is a laptop.

Laptops have not been designed or manufactured for several years now yet the name still lingers. The public has not upgraded their terminology, just as I have not upgraded my software. Which makes it difficult for me to upgrade my notebook.

One of the things I look for when I buy a computer whether it be a desk top or portable is the ability to be able to handle DOS based programs and whether or not it has a built in micro floppy drive.

Now I know that sounds silly in this day and age of `Windows 2000' and high speed CD R/W drives but the fact of the matter is, I don't need all that.

My work, such as this article, is written in Word Perfect 6 for DOS. It gives me more features than anything any Microsoft product has ever dreamed of. So many in fact that I barely use any of them. My portable computer is a 386 and my home computer is a 486. Dinosaurs you say. Maybe, if you are doing graphic arts, but when it comes to word processing, I learned years ago that only an xt runs slower than I can type.

As for storage capacity a 40 M hard drive holds all of my programs, including `Windows 3.1' should I want to play some solitaire. And for backup, which I always do, every night at home and every time I turn off my portable, a mini floppy holds more than I can write in a day.

I will agree that a micro floppy is much more convenient and less easily damaged than the mini so I am not against advancement. When I am traveling I back up my work on a micro and stick it in my pocket before I shut down. Then if my portable gets stolen I still have my work. However, using a CD for that purpose would be ludicrous. First off the expense of a CD as compared to a floppy drive is astronomical, the size of the storage space is totally wasted when most of my work seldom reaches half a meg, let alone a half a gig., on top or which a CD is much harder to fit in a pocket than a micro floppy cassette.

So, salesmen, and manufacturers, that try to promote their latest product with fancy CD R/W drives and the availability of an external floppy really don't understand the idea of portability.

These new computers that are thinner and lighter are definitely on the right track. It is the whole reason the industry went from laptops to notebooks. (I knew, at one time, the boundaries of weight and size that denote notebooks from laptops but it has been so long since I was a computer salesman that I no longer know nor do I care because anything on the market nowadays, new or used is pretty well going to be a notebook.) However, though they are smaller they are still not truly portable.

My little notebook has travelled with me all over Canada, except for three provinces, all across the US, except for three states, to Mexico, and to China.

One of the things I asked, when I booked my flight to China, was if the plane was equipped with plug-ins for computers. Air Canada told me that of their entire fleet on the China route, only three planes had outlets for computers, and those were in business class.

I can understand this. Most planes were built before the present uprise in the use of notebooks and designers of planes have reasonably assumed that portable computers are portable, meaning they don't need access to a power source.

But they do. One of the reasons I have been looking into buying a new portable is that the batteries in my present notebook are shot. When I was given the notebook the battery would only hold a half hour charge and as time went on it got to the point where it wouldn't hold a charge at all and now it is so dead that if it is in the computer the computer won't boot so I have to take the battery out just to get it to work which mean I am chained to an outlet. Ergo, no portability.

Because I travel a lot I need a computer that will run on batteries and you say that any good note book will. And I ask, `For how long?'

The problem is that newer notebooks take up so much space with their fancy drives that they don't have room for a second battery. For some of them this means that when the battery is low you have to plug the computer in to charge the battery. Others have the option of being able to take the battery out, after you shut down, and replacing it with a fully charged battery. (There is actually one computer on the market that allows you to change the batter without shutting down.)

This to me is a very practical idea. Now we are reaching portability. We work until the battery gets low, pause while we replace the battery and continue working. But what happens when the second battery gets low.

Simple, while you are working with the second battery the first battery is in a charger. Not so simple. Few manufacturers offer a battery charger. To recharge the battery you have to put it back in the computer and plug the computer into the wall. So much for the portability.

And even if you do have a separate battery charger it has to be plugged into a wall. So unless you have unlimited funds to buy unlimited extra batteries your portability is only the distance and time you can travel from a wall outlet with one or two batteries.

To be truly portable a notebook has to have a separate battery charger and the charge has to work off of solar power. Even a separate charger that worked off of a car lighter would be a good improvement. But as long as you are chained to a 110 or 220 outlet a portable computer is not truly portable.

END
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