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Computing With Bifocals
by Nancy Carroll Gravley

A column for people who remember what
the world was like before there was color.....




Mac Activities For A Hot Summer Afternoon
July 7th

I don't know what the weather is like where you are, but where I am it is too hot to breath. It's so hot that ..... well never mind. Just take my word for it. These hot afternoons present good times to experiment with your computer and with the Internet, preferably under of a good air conditioner. Here are some ideas for things you can do that may prove interesting as well as increase your skills using your Mac and the Internet.

Go to the search engine of your choice and look up your whole name, or your surname and see how many times it comes up. You may be surprised. Some of my favorite search engines are www.google.com, www.yahoo.com, www.altavista.com, and www.ask.com. You can also consider the multiple search engines that will look at several search engines at once such as www.dogpile.com. If you are unsure about search engines and how to use them, you can refer to my column from September 30, 1998. When I did a search on the surname Gravley using Google, I found 451 sites. A number of them referenced my column, but I also found entries leading me to sports figures named Gravley; a historical article about a family member who was an early Texas pioneer; a local mayor (a former relative) who shares that name; genealogical records containing the name; and a couple of references to people with that name who committed crimes and are undoubtedly not related to me. :-) It all made for interesting reading. Out of curiosity I also looked up my own family name of Carroll. I found colleges and universities named Carroll. There were references to authors, public schools, and several counties and cities in various states. I also found a history of the family name that was fascinating. You just might find people or places that you did not know existed.

Pay a visit to The Big Eye at www.bigeye.com. Be patient because it will take it a while to download. It is an immense site, but well worth the wait if you like to read and learn. Want to know about the weather of the world? It is here. How about tennis, or the world of vikings, or great books, or motorcycles? All of these subjects, plus another 1,200 can be accessed through The Big Eye. You can simply review each page of topics to find things that interest you, or you can go to a subject index. The site constantly adds subjects and is well maintained.

Go out on the net and look up your old high school. See if it has a web page and find out what is going on there. Remember to put quote marks around the name of your school to help narrow the search. Oh, but, I can hear some of you now, “That is all fine and good if you went to Muleshoe High, but I graduated from John Glen High School or George Washington High School and there are a bazillion of them.” That is true, but you can get around it if you wish. I went into three different search engine to see what would happen when I put in my high school. www.google.com gave me a number of sites although many of them were sports scores. However, I found out that my old high school does indeed have a web site. I really had some luck at Ask Jeeves (www.ask.com). I asked “Does my high school have a web site?”. I was given the option of asking for high school web sites across the country and linked to a hot list of public and private school web sites categorized by state. That should help to at least reduce the number of George Washington high schools that you have to research. I also went to www.altavista.com and typed in the name of my high school. There I found the official school site, sites maintained by various school organizations, and a few personal web sites that references schools with the same name as my school. I also found a link to an alumni registry for public and private schools. They also maintain a bulletin board so that you can leave messages for old school chums. Which just so happens to be a nice segue into my next recommendation.

Find an old friend, old love, old boss, old enemy, old room mate or old pal. I wrote a whole column on ways you can do this (September 16, 1998). It can be very rewarding.

The last suggestion is to learn at least 3 new things about your Mac. The best way to do this is to review tips that help you become more proficient. I have covered a number of these in the past (see columns from February 10, 1999, and February 17, 1999.) I plan to cover more next week.

Have fun, stay cool, and explore.

Letters From Readers

Following last week's column I received a very nice note from Phil Shepard. In that column I talked about checking the amount of memory reserved for various programs and listed the steps that should be followed to check and modify memory amounts. Phil told me that the steps I listed were ok for older machines, but inaccurate for machines with system 8.5 or greater. Following is a revised set of directions based on Phil's comments.

  1. Close the program if you have it open.
  2. Find it on your hard drive. (If you have problems use the find option under the File pull-down menu.)
  3. Open the folder holding the specific program.
  4. Click ONCE on the icon for the program.
  5. Go to the File pull down menu and click on Get Info.
  6. For operating systems 8.1 or earlier: You will get an information screen about the program. For operating systems 8.5 or later: you need to select Memory from the pop up menu before you get the memory settings screen under Get Info.
  7. If the minimum amount of memory shown under the Memory Requirements does not match the recommended size change it.
  8. You can change it by highlighting the number in the minimum amount box and typing in the correct number. It will automatically save when you close the information box.

Phil added some additional helpful information about memory and maximum efficiency from your machine.

“The three numbers for sizes are suggested size, minimum size, and preferred size. You are correct that it is wise to change the minimum size to equal the suggested size. However, the most helpful change is almost always increasing the preferred size. If one has enough memory installed or enough virtual memory then a good rule of thumb is to increase the preferred size to at least the next multiple of 1000. For example, 3200 K would become 4000 K. Some programs show almost unbelievable improvements with increased memory settings.”

This is good information and I appreciate Phil taking the time to share it with me, and subsequently, with you.

I also received a thoughtful letter from the company that produces the Teach! Lite software that was reviewed last week. The following comments, while not diminishing the problems that I experienced, demonstrate the causes of the problems and the efforts that the company is making to address them. It is good to see that they care about the problems I experienced and based on my conversations with them, I imagine that tech support issues will be improving with time.

“Acrux Software is not Microsoft. We don't have money for our own server, we rent space on a Unix computer. Teach! and the extra material (guides etc.) makes quite a download, as you experienced yourself. We could only afford this particular provider, as he doesn't charge per Gigabyte downloaded. However, as it is a Unix computer and it is not our own, we can't install all kind of things on it that would have made life a bit easier for you, such as automatic registering. Although it is version 1.2 instead of the current version 1.2.1, people can find Teach! on the CD-ROM of the July issue of MacWorld (US). Acrux Software has 2 people doing all the work.............There is quite a bit in Teach! that can be improved to make the program easier to use. My customer support is giving me a better understanding of what is needed.”

The company representative also stated that their offices will be closed July 6th through the 21st.

If you have any tips, hints, or thoughts on these topics, make sure you write me so that I can share your thoughts with other readers.


Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions  for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping.   To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.


Post your comments below.
Check out Nancy's complete index of all her columns for the most complete list of tips anywhere. The list is categorized and is a great reference when you are looking for help!

A Capacious Catalog Of Computer Tips

Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color, covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.

Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.


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