by Ken Cotton.
Surprise me with a new title. Not Ken's Korner. <g>
[You got it. - Mike]
I was asked me over 3 weeks ago to write a bit about the ISDN line that we just had installed in the basement of the church. As usual, the deadline has come and been slightly extended so I can get it in. Like in high school when I would decide to clean my room the night before a test, I have put this off until the last minute. If you see it in the June issue, that means I made it.
If I make it this will be my fourth article for the AJ. My first one was March 1997 when I got something in on how to have Japanese and English together on the same Windows 95 machine. For that article and every one since, I have started out with a search for the best editor to write the article in.
I'd start with Word 97, as I like the fact that it would make my URLs hot or live, but it always slowed down my machine and seemed like overkill as I really don't use much formatting. My NotePad replacement, TextPad is quick and powerful, but not the right tool as it is text only. I wanted some some sort of WordPad replacement that would have simple formatting, but also make links live so that I could check them at any time during the writing.
I want to be able click on http://blahblahblah or www.blahblahblah.com and have my browser go right to the link. This is really useful for checking links or checking links and facts, something that can be really time-consuming, especially if you have to copy and paste each time.
FrontPage 97 came close, but it for some reason didn't work out. I think that it was just a bit too bloated for what I wanted. FrontPage Express may come closer to what I was looking for, but I didn't want to have to install Internet Explorer 4.0x to get it. I have tried it on one machine, but didn't like the results. I do like Outlook Express a lot. It's great for reading newsgroups like our own.
Well, I finally have found something that comes closer to what I'm looking for. It's called NetPad and I'm using it now. I found it in a list of the 100 Best Shareware and Freeware applications article in the June issue of Windows Magazine. This is worth checking out. I'm trying a couple other programs I found there.
In addition to doing this, NetPad also has a few other features that I like allowing you to link ideas within your different ideas. If you don't have a clipboard ClipMate, you may like NetPad as the MiniPad utitility that comes with it allows you to quickly save bits of information into NetPad to work with later. Check out the 90-day trial version at http://www.flyingobjects.com.
Now on to the ISDN line. If you were at the April meeting you heard me say that we finally had final approval from the church to install a phone line in the basement. Being a big ISDN fan, I suggested that we pay the extra 1000 Yen and have the option of connecting at 64k or better yet, 128k. Judging from the reaction of those at that meeting and seeing it in action at the May meeting it was a good idea. Finally!
I also thought that we might want to find a sponsor for the line and decided to contact longtime TPC member, past president, and past BBS sysop Roger Boisvert of Global Online to see if they would foot the bill in exchange for a few announcements. He said, "send us the bill." Thanks Roger. We appreciate this.
I could end now, but there are a few other things that I'd like to talk about. The club doesn't have a Program Director at the moment and as Vice President I've felt obligated to get a speaker in there every month, but it's wearing me down.
At every meeting we ask if someone would like to assume this position and what everyone would like to see. With everyone being busy here in Tokyo and some thinking they lack the contacts, etc., to find presenters I'm not surprised that everyone isn't jumping at the offer. But I am surprised at how little input people do give. Let's get one thing clear, "It's your club!" If you'd like to help out pull me aside at a meeting or call/email me. Let's work together on some things.
The feedback after the last meeting was great. In addition to thanks to President Pat Hughes and myself for getting the phone line in and lugging equipment each time I also got some positive emails and phone calls in the days following.
But by far the nicest thing I heard came from member Charles Olson when we were packing up after the last meeting. He said, "Ken, tonight was great. You asked for suggestions for presentations tonight, but you don't need any presenters for the next 3 months; You have the Internet."
So unless someone contacts me with an offer to present that's what it's going to be. Anyone that has a notebook computer with a serial port to connect to the ISDN can come in and show us all all what they do on the Net. Streaming audio and video over the Net might be another good one. You decide.
I thought a good start would be searching the Net. So Pat and I and maybe Mike Kato will be there with our notebooks to show how we search the Net both with search engines and software that runs on your machine and queries multiple search engines and comes back with organized results. Don't expect a PowerPoint presentation, but I think that everyone will learn something, including myself. Just researching the topic the past few days has been an eye-opener. Things have come a long way.
Future meeting topics are undecided, but we are thinking that Internet phone, chat and video conferencing software like NetMeeting and CU-SeeMe will be another good one. Anyone want to stay home that night and talk to us. Todd Boyle, who moved to Seattle, might be willing, but it may be the middle of the night there.
I'd been looking for a while, but finally found a notebook to replace my old 486 Toshiba Portege. I picked up one of the new ThinkPad 600 series for ¥298,000 yesterday from T-Zone and like it a lot. I could have saved ¥15,000 or so if I could have waited until mid-June, but I wanted to have it for the next meeting and the larger shops seem to get them in stock first. Not willing to wait until summer when the English models may arrive I decided to go with a Japanese model.
If you were thinking of buying mailorder from the States, you may want to reconsider. In my search for prices I checked http://www.pricescan.com. The best I could find for a similar English model was 800 dollars more than the prices here. I'll just have to put up with the Japanese keyboard. You'll be seeing my requests for help in the tpc.help newsgroup, one of the most popular ones, once I partition the hard drive and put in an English OS. I think that I will wait for Windows 98.
I have a list of other things to talk about, but may have filled the space that Mike and Paul have reserved for me. One that really needs to be mentioned is that former TPC President and AJ Editor/Publisher Will Auckerman has left Computing Japan Magazine after being there as Editor since it was started four years ago. I'm not sure what his plans are, but I hope we get to see him at an upcoming meeting. Five years ago he was the first person that I talked to when I called to find out about the club. And most recently he gave me a chance at writing for CJMag. My first article was in the March issue and my next one should appear in August. This is one of many nice things that have resulted from my involvement in the club.
Another thing that really needs to get out there is the fact that there are two new computer clubs in town. They are Code-J, the (Web) Content Developers of Japan that meets monthly on the second Friday and TENTUG the Tokyo English NT Users Group that meets the last Thursday of the month.
Speaking of NT, now might be a good time to tell you that my present setup with Win95 is so unstable that I should think about ending now. I've lost so much time due to crashes, slowdowns and having to save anything that I'm working on every 5 minutes. It's really taking some of the fun out of all this. I'll be installing Win98 and NT 4.0 very soon and hope things improve. I just can't go on like this.
Why not join us in the tpc.windows newsgroup as we discuss our options and the advantages of each OS. I'm sure that where to buy Win98 will be a hot topic, too.
Time to end; I'm about due for a reboot. Arggghhh! Thanks for reading this far. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments or advice or just to let me know that someone is reading.
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