Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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May 2001, Week 5 -- Getting Published





   I think there is no higher compliment for a program than saying you don't need to read the manual. We just started up the new "Microsoft Publisher 2002" and produced a nice looking newsletter in the same time it took to type it.

   Let's face it: nobody reads manuals. And the reason nobody reads manuals is they're so poorly written. We've been trained by years of rotten manuals. My all-time favorite came with a computer from IBM several years ago, which on page 42 had instructions on how to open the shipping box. The manual, of course, was inside that box.


   Since every business, even the smallest home business, needs to put out publications, this is the way to go. We have a dozen programs for producing newsletters, brochures, advertisements, business cards, etc., but Microsoft Publisher 2002 has to be acknowledged as the big cheese, the holy smoke, the widget in the works that makes the wheels go round.


   Some of the highlights in the new version:


-- You can save a page or any part of a page as a picture, that can then be slugged in where you want, as they say in the business, or moved around at will.


-- A "smart paste" tag can be applied to text or pictures brought in from any digital source and that selection will automatically be put in the selected type style and page format.


-- The Office Clipboard holds up top 24 items and has a clip organizer for docs and pictures brought in from other Microsoft Office programs and from web pages.


-- "Task Pane" shows how the publication would look in a choice of several layouts and typefaces.


-- Text automatically wraps around illustrations.


-- Supports up to 12 colors for commercial printing.


   Publisher 2002 is $129 list, for Windows 98 and up. Web site: www.microsoft.com/publisher.


Learning at play



   "Al Morale's Game Show Presenter" for Windows and Macintosh lets you pump in your own questions and multiple choice answers in a format similar to a television game show. Education becomes a game, and since you put in the questions and answers, any subject can be covered. Uses would seem to extend to businesses and schools.

   List price is $79 from Bodine Communications; phone: 913-492-7709; web: www.gameshowpresenter.com. While the program is quite clever, the price seems high. There are a dozen or more programs at www.zdnet.com for creating quizzes of several types. Some are free and the most expensive we could find was $25 and had a free trial period. Search on the key words "quiz shows" and "teaching tools."




-- www.boxermath.com  A fee-based tutorial service for elementary and high school mathematics. Sample tutorials are free and there's a one week free trial of all additional lessons. What we liked here was that trigonometry and geometry functions were illustrated by animations, which made them much easier to follow.


-- www.radio-locator.com  One of several sites that connect you to radio stations all over the world. Select by location, station call letters or the type of broadcast.

-- www.bloomberg.com   This is probably the most popular stock market information site on the web but what caught our attention right now is the courses they've started offering online for free. Current subjects: Mutual Funds, Bond Basics, and Fundamentals of the Futures Market.

-- www.biblio.com  Links to book sources, new and used. You can search by author, title or subject. The search universe here is extremely large, which is good.

-- www.gardensurf.com  Links to public gardens and gardening associations, landscapers, botanists, courses, books, catalogs, nurseries, etc. Dig we must.


-- www.nesteggz.com  A new site for store coupons, and with a peculiar angle: You use your own printer to print out the "cents off" coupons online. You take those to the store and when they are turned in you get credit for a cash savings at the web site. The site claims it will pay 20 percent interest on your accumulated savings. I can't figure out how anybody can afford to pay 20 percent interest, so don't expect the moon here.


Games: from the Mysts of time

 Myst III


   By now, half the world is probably aware that "Myst III: Exile," has just been released. This is the most exotically beautiful computer game ever produced, and I do not say that lightly. Myst has its origins in the mists of early Macintosh time, where its roots can be found in the game "Cosmic Osmo." What a long strange trip it's been, as someone or other has remarked.

   New in this sequel are cinematic video and music sequences, and five new ages of Myst to explore. Where earlier versions were confined to exploration and puzzle solving, this one also has an enemy to defeat. From Ubi Soft; $45 for Windows and Macintosh; web: www.myst3.com.



 Search Engines


"Search Engines," by Alfred and Emily Glossbrenner; $18, Peachpit Press www.peachpit.com.

   The Glossbrenners have built a reputation for exhaustive research and this book expands on an earlier version. Search engines are the only way to manage the mountain of information that is the worldwide web and it's important to use more than one; while the answers from different search engines are similar, they are almost never the same. Nearly all of the questions we get from readers could be answered simply by searching the web.


NOTE: Readers can search more than four years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at bobschwab@oncomp.com or bobschwab@aol.com.