go to contents of current issue contents.jpg - 1911 Bytes Digit-ali - The editorial column of Australian writer, Ali Kayn

November, 1998

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Sorry, sorry, sorry.
I've been remiss in writing this column, and have been appropriately abused by my readers. But I had a REALLY good excuse. I've been living in a digital world, and technology has been pushing MY buttons.

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I had an exciting time going to my local electronics shop and getting a peripherals switch box. Not a wimpy printer switch box, oh no, this enables me to use a single monitor, keyboard and mouse for up to four computers. Bargain. Especially since I have, count them, zero fully functioning monitors. You think our images look dark on YOUR monitor. So off I go and buy the switchbox (A$59.95), then all the cables (about A$100), then exchange the cables because the box is arse-about and needs male-to-male cables. And I walked all over the place looking for a PS2 adapter for the printer server only to be told (after purchase) that it wouldn't work (it didn't). Golly.

But, the switch box does swap between PCs quite nicely, as long as I remember to switch TO each PC as it comes up so that the keyboard is available for the start-up tests. Frankly it's pretty cool, but the real test will be when I get my new Gateway monitor and see if there is a degradation of image.

Then there was the domino-affect, I did a routine test on our Reel.com links (you know you can buy videos off our site, yes?), and they failed. No. So I had to search-and-replace through every one of our 400-odd movie reviews. So I started up Hot Dog and remembered I hadn't downloaded the latest Supertoolz, so I started the download and it CRASHED. So now Hot Dog won't run, not 5, and not 4.5. Well, it will run, it just crashed every single time I clicked on ANY option on the menu bar. Apparently this is a problem which occurs with non-Microsoft development tools. Hmm. Could the Microsoft developers know something that they're not sharing?

So I try rebuilding Windows 95. Not enough disk space, so I start cleaning up, and remove Eudora Light from my machine since I'm now using Eudora Pro. It leaves Light and takes out Pro. ARGH!!!!! Now I have no website tools and no mail!

Yep, you guessed it, once again I've had to rebuild my whole bloody machine because of a problem with the bloody operating system. Damnation, why can't the applications have all the necessary files in their own locations, and have an on-disk fixup to reinstall the apps every time the damn operating system gets sick. And of course, some of these nasty developers now make it mandatory to find your release media before you can remove applications. Too bad if you are stupid enough to lose the CD, or damage it, or have it stolen, or put it into storage for safe keeping.

As you can imagine nothing went the way I wanted, Eudora, which I wanted to keep, uninstalls and takes the registration data with it. Sausage software uninstalls and leaves everything behind. The opposite of what I wanted. I did manage to get a fix up program from Sausage to clean out the registry, but a week later, and after I had rebuild my system. Sigh.

I gritted my teeth reinstalling Microsoft Office and Corel Office. I used to put the applications I used daily on an uncompressed drive and the occasionally-used apps on a compressed drive. Makes sense, yes? But Corel have now made it impossible to do this. Their reason? They say that since Microsoft don't give that option, why should Corel. Okay? Read this: Corel are removing functionality that makes their product superior to that of Microsoft. Well, we've been watching and wailing as WordPerfect becomes less usable with each new release, and now, on the theory that Microsoft's product is what the users want, Corel are pushing WordPerfect more and more into a Microsoft clone.

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Well, where's the use in that. We might as well use Microsoft (gag) Word, with all it's nasty, nasty habits and peculiar processes. Frankly, I think that WordPerfect fell to a better marketing and sales strategy, and maybe to some failure-to-communicate pertinent information on Microsoft's behalf. Why else would there be books of undocumented facts in addition to the official MS developers kit release?

So there I was putting Microsoft and Corel back on the machine, my teeth grinding as I realised how much I disliked both products in their current form. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't take recreational drugs, I don't eat chocolate. Bloody hell, now I'm down to two cups of coffee a day I don't think I can COPE.

What does that leave on my machine?

Laplink Technical, which is absolutely vital for anyone who runs multiple machines, especially if you need to keep your systems going in order to pay the bills.

Microsoft Word and Corel WordPerfect -- Word because just about everyone uses it now, and WordPerfect because Word SUCKS when it comes to large, well-referenced, properly-styled quality documents.

Quattro Pro because I use it for keeping my site stats (we've now hit 45,000 readers thank you all for visiting), despite the fact that I ran up a A$20 bill on help calls when I actually started crying in frustration. Punchline -- they gave me the WRONG answer.

Microsoft Access because I've developed a system called Legaleeze for generating Australian Court documents so I need to support it. It uses Access because that's what the users have.

Ulead PhotoImpact because its BLOODY GOOD, my weapon-of-choice, my must-have photo-retouching product.

Micrografx Picture Publisher because some of the special effects that it can create are not available in PhotoImpact and I think a serious person needs both. Also because I use some of their website templates for inspiration.

Corel Web.Master purely as a way of testing the site for broken links. On the plus side, Web.Master finds broken links, and even displays broken links, highlighted, in the source. On the minus side, every time I use it, it crashes when I try to look at the source of a document. Not every document, but every session. Hot Dog simply because I appreciate the online help, not just the help file, but the extensive multiple-browser information. I also use LinkBot to test the site, but I find LinkBot reports problems that I can't track down. LinkBot also tests external links.

Eudora Pro I use for my e-mail accounts, again despite the fact that it has single-handedly cut my opportunity for hits because it SCREWS UP my e-mails to the Internet Movie Database.

WS-FTP LE, because it's the FTP program that I'm most comfortable with, and it was recommended by Mira Networking, who I figure tested enough to know. Oh, and Winzip, of course. No system is complete without it. Again, watch it, I wiped about 200 MB of files because it didn't seem to go deeply enough into my directory structure and I assumed that because the directories were in the zip files, that the files were in the directories. Sob.

See, the nice thing about computers is that the more you use them, the more surprises are in store for you.

But I'm on the air again, and we're pumping out the film reviews. We have a new assistant editor and webmaster, Terry Frost. Richard H-something has provided us with some more pictures of Melbourne, including last month's wallpaper, and there's more to come.

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ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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