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Diary of a Homepage
Part 5 (January 1998 - December 1998)

Part 1 (February - June 1996) || Part 2 (June - September 1996) || Part 3 (October 1996 - March 1997) || Part 4 (April 1997 - December 1997) || Part 5 (January 1998 - December 1998) || Part 6 (January - December 1999) || Part 7 (January 2000 - December 2001) || Part 8 (January 2002 - June 2003) || Part 9 (June 2003 - August 2003) || Part 10 (August 2003 - April 2007) || Part 11 (May 2007 - September 2007) || Part 12 (October 2007 -December 2007) || Part 13 (January 2008 - August 2008) || Part 14 (September 2008 -> June 2009) || Part 15 (July 2009 -> August 2009) || Part 16 (September 2009 -> December 2009) || Part 17  (January 2010 -> October 2010 ) || Part 18 (November 2010 -> December 2010) || Part 19 (January 2011 - September 2011) || Part 20 (October 2011 - March 2012) || Part 21 (April 2012 - July 2012) || Part 22 (August 2012 - September 2012 ) || Part 23 (October 2012 - December 2012) || Part 24 (January 2013 - December 2013) || Part 25 (January 2014 - December 2014 || Part 26 (January 2015 - December 2015 || Part 27 (January 2016 - October 2016) || Part 28 (November 2016 -> ) || Back to the home page

11th March 1998

Software updates: We have been away for several months so the first priority has been to check for updates on the installed software base, in particular the Virus checker. The pace of change seems to have been slightly slower than previously but I have still needed to download McAfee Virus Scan 3.1.4 and upgrade to Compuserve Version 3.04

21st March 1998

Global Communications and Computing Worldwide Communications has been a major objective ever since we both retired. We have a Narrowboat which we used extensively last summer and we have spent periods in New Zealand. The latest OU courses such as M206 are becoming "electronic" with the First Class Email and conferencing systems, Web pages for information and collection of TMAs and electronic submission and marking.

Requirements for Global Communications and Computing: We have been seeking a system allowing the same electronic connectivity on the boat and abroad as we have at home. Our philosophy when we set up the home system is covered in our Thoughts on Communications page. The voice side is, of course, also an important aspect and is covered two ways - by the home telephone with BT CallMinder service, which can be interrogated from any tone phone and by a digital mobile telephone to interrogate the mailbox and return calls.

Mobile Telephones: The Motorola 8700 phone was bought with data capabilities in mind and Motorola, in the Cellect range of cards providing compression allowing up to 38 Kbaud communication - still slow compared to the rates we get on a land line but perfectly acceptable for Email and limited Web Browsing. We were very impressed by the "Roaming" performance of our phone in New Zealand - the charges were modest for outgoing calls at little more than peak rate in the UK. Incoming calls are another story and were barred before we left the UK!

Mobile computing: Laptops have been poor value in the past and our initial thinking was to build up a simple system from parts left over from upgrades powered off our invertor and a 1500 watt generator for the boat. All the links to mobile phones are by PCMCIA cards so an interface would need to be added. This was seen as a cost effective solution for the UK but did not solve the Worldwide aspect.

Toshiba Libretto 50C: We have now obtained one of the Toshiba Libretto 50C computers at a very favourable price in New Zealand which should allow us full communication anywhere in the world where the GSM phone system can be accessed. The Libretto is tiny - it weighs in at well under a kilo with mains or 12 volt supply yet runs full Windows 95 (OSR2 version) on a 75 MHz Pentiumwith 16 Mbytes EDO RAM and a 750 Mbyte disk. A floppy drive is included which plugs into the PC card slot and an adapter provides parallel and serial port connectors and output to a SVGA monitor at up to 1024x 768 resolution. The internal screen is 6.1 inch 640 x 480 24 bit colour and is very bright and sharp. It is surprising capable and runs the full Office 97 suite at perfectly acceptable speeds although Internet Explorer 4 and the active desktop will be the ultimate test.

[Toshiba Libretto Homepage]
Libretto 50C
Specification

Loading Software and Data Transfer: I have employed a number of techniques to get round the lack of a CD for loading software.

Configuring Direct Cable Connection (DCC) and Dial Up Networking (DUN) software: It is best to add the programs for the Direct Cable Connection and configure for Dial Up Networking (DUN) for the Internet at the same time. The procedures for Installing Dial up Networking are already covered at length in one of my technical notes and I have added another to cover Installing and using Direct Cable Connection. In particular it is important to end up with a log in password when the machine boots up otherwise you can not save your passwords. You only get a single chance to give the initial password when installing DUN and I have found no way to get back with completely uninstalling and installing it again.

Fixed Communications: Our existing modem was connected to the serial port and DUN links, the OU First Class software and Compuserve 3.04 were set up and configured without problems and worked perfectly straight away. Email address lists etc were copied over as was the favorites lists just as we planned for disaster recovery and described in our Thoughts on Backup and Archiving.

Mobile Communications:We have bought a Motorola Cellect 1+ data card to match the Motorola 8700 phone. This was detected as soon as it was plugged in and the driver loaded without problem from an image of the driver disk supplied on floppy which had been copied onto the hard drive because the floppy and communications card could not be plugged in simultaneously. New Dial Up Network connections were set up for the OU system and Compuserve as per the procedures for Installing Dial Up Networking PPP connection technical note and the modem configured for 38,400 operation - See my technical notes on Maximising Modem Performance for the Internet

Initial Evaluation of Performance: Internet access worked immediately via the OU connection as it did via Compuserve. First Class does not list the Motorola CELLect 1+ modem but is accessable through the PP link. EMail using Outlook worked immediately the modem had been changed in the CompuServe transport mechanism and it will be possible longer term to set up two profiles for land and mobile use. Compuserve is also accessable but needs to be changed for either land or mobile in its internal options. Download speeds have not been fully evaluated but a trial download in FirstClass got just over a 100K in two minutes which is acceptable as it was mid morning Saturday. See Real life Internet Access Rates for what to expect on land lines.

22nd March 1998

Over the last four days a complete new section of the site Pauline's OU Pages has been set up to support Pauline's Open University Teaching on M206, B889 and T843. At present it is under development but the intention is to provide easy access to the material used in her presentations, an introduction to or experiences with OU and Related Software on our Home Computing System including a detailed "diary" of our Installation, Configuration, Utilisation and Assessment of the relevant software. We cover our Experiences with a small Laptop which allows us access to the same Communications we have at home whilst we are traveling on our Narrowboat Corinna. Our experiences have led to several articles being added to Peter's existing series of "How to" technical articles.

23rd March 1998

Many minor changes and updates to the site to reflect the new OU Pages in News Flashs, First Visit, Howto Articles and the Home Page itself. Other housekeeping has involved the creation of this new part 5 of Diary of a Home Page and updating the index at the top and bottom of all the parts.

25th March 1998

Virus Checker Validation: Having downloaded new versions of the MCafee Virus Checker it seemed time to test using the EICAR test virus. This is a test virus which all Virus checkers recognise to allow non destructive testing.
  • To make the test virus copy the following string via the clipboard (without extra returns) and save it as EICAR.txt
    X5O!P%@AP[4\PZX54(P^)7CC)7}$EICAR-STANDARD-ANTIVIRUS-TEST-FILE!$H+H*
    It is probably best to get at the source of this file .htm rather than use the Browser - copying via Internet Explorer 4 gave me a space at the end which should not be present.

  • Overall the Background checks seem adequate and On-demand scan will detect any Word macro viruses before the files are opened.
  • McAfee scored as the best buy in Secure Computing magazine in its last set of annual tests, narrowly overtaking Dr Solomon's which is generally accepted to be the standard against which all other virus checker should be judged.

    28th March 1998

    A number of extra changes to the site to crosslink and update the pages to reflect the new section of the site covering OU and the pages covering the Toshiba Configuration Log. Changes in Our Computer and an update to the Backup and Archiving Philosophy - it takes a lot of work to keep the entire site up to date.

    31st March 1998

    Powerpoint ActiveX Animations problems with Netscape Navigator: A considerable amount of time was spent trying to sort out a problem with the Powerpoint ActiveX Animations(.ppz files) we use for displaying presentations. A visitor reported troubles with viewing in Netscape Navigator. We have used Internet Explorer in various versions for most online activities but have always had a look at the site with Netscape Navigator off-line ie. the local copy on the disk that we use as the upload directories. Offline Netscape handles the ActiveX plugin for Powerpoint fine but online it does not work and a number of anomalies appear. The most serious is that if one is asked whether to run the download because the tickbox to ask before running files of that sort is checked it comes up with run or save to disk with the .ppz changed to .exe. At other times it will come up with the error message "Netscape was unable to find a plug-in for application/octet-stream." although if you look under Help|About Plugins the Powerpoint Animator is clearly loaded and working when the file is not received online. The same occurred when accessing the Microsoft's demonstration site for Powerpoint ActiveX Animations so it is not a problem with my site alone.

    Information Searches: This is a good example of searching for sources of technical information. I first looked for Newsgroups covering both ActiveX and Powerpoint using Free Agent - the de facto standard freeware offline reader. The microsoft.public.powerpoint newsgroup had a number of references to the same problem but no solutions. I then went through into the Microsoft Knowledge Base (MKB) through the Microsoft Support link on the Microsoft Home Page and searched for the application/octet-stream string which revealed a number of hits. The problem seems to be that Netscape works in different ways with online files and local files. When the file is on the local machine it is the file type is identified correctly by the ending .htm .ppz .jpg etc. When downloading files Netscape depends on the Server providing a file type through a MIME mapping so if you're using Netscape Navigator 2.0 or above, the Web server must correctly identify every type of file and send a MIME type to avoid these problems. A note helpfully suggests that you should ask your server administrator to add the MIME mappings for powerpoint of:

    MIME mapping by major Service Providers: Clearly CompuServe and Microsoft themselves are not yet supporting the above fully and the mapping is being sent as a default MIME type of so Netscape Navigator can or does not use various features of Sites built using Microsoft capabilities (Powerpoint is not the only problem) - is this all part of the Browser Wars! None of this has surfaced at a high enough level to get changes and there seems to have been no mention that the latest browsers seem to use the application/octet-stream as a java file or some form of .exe which causes me some concern. In the meantime parts of my site are going to have to be restricted to Microsoft Browser access online and that is now flagged on the OU pages. The Animation is so much smaller that I can not give up and put up presentations any other way. They are typically only between 12 and 15 KB for 25 Vugraphs whilst a .ppt file is 50 -300 KB and a .htm and .gif version is 250 KB and over 100 files -- no contest!

    File Upload from Internet Explorer 3.02: The OU provide a patch to Internet Explorer to allow it to upload files As I am not of a trusting nature I searched Microsoft Knowledge base to find out more about RFC1867.EXE which is described as an "Add on for Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.02 to allow file uploading". It seems to be an upgrade to match a new protocol 1867 for uploading files or to quote the Microsoft Internet Explorer Download Page you can now "Send files straight from your browser. HTTP File Upload lets you send files to server locations on the Internet or corporate intranet without ever leaving your browser. Corporate customers have asked for this feature so their site designers can create a document sharing and management solution based on an HTML form, using the browser as the sole interface to the network." This should allow proper upload of TMAs from Students and marked scripts from Tutors to the ETMA system using IE 3.02 like we are on the Libretto I ran RFC1867.exe on the Libretto which ended stating it had installed the file uploading facility. Control Panel|Add/Remove programs does not list it and there seems to be no uninstall facility. Testing has been limited to checking that the Browse button appears on the upload page showing the patch is present when online.

    8th April 1998

    SMTP/POP3 Mail from CompuServe: I discovered on the Slipstick Exchange Center that CompuServe have started to offer the de facto standard SMTP and POP3 mail. I eventually found the information on it and it indicated that it can be run in parallel to the existing mail with a new address compuserve replaced by csi ie we become pcurtis@csi.com . You can automatically forward mail from the old to the new account but not the other way. The setup was easy after one had worked past all the warnings that you would not be able to change user name ever again. After clicking to proceed one has only to choose and confirm a mail password after which you selected your Email program from a drop down menu to get detailed instructions on how to set it up for POP/SMTP mail which it suggested one printed. All very easy and forming part of the new web based approach.

    Address Book Conversions in Exchange/Messaging/Outlook: One major problem in making the change from CompuServe to the new POP/SMTP mail or another provider is the address book in Messaging/Exchange. The entries are different for different Transport Services and there is no simple way to edit from the CompuServe entries to another. I have many hundreds of addresses for CompuServe Mail and I do not want to reenter them all. There is a similar problem with incompatibility between the Schedule + address book and the Exchange/Messaging address book. I discovered last year that Graham Smith has written a very neat Macro for Word 97 using the Mail Merge facility which reads in a Schedule+ address list or varios databases and adds the contents to an Exchange/Messaging address book with the optional ability of carry out various manipulations on route. Although not written with this aplication in mind I discovered that Word would read all but the notes field of an Exchange/Messaging database and export back to the Personal Address Book thus enabling me to make duplicate Internet Mail (SMTP) entries to those for CompuServe Mail. They still have a INTERNET:name@place format and the RTF flag set but are still much easier to edit. I contacted Graham last year with my findings and he provided an extra subroutine for me to patch in to the earlier version for Word 7 which coped with the removal of the INTERNET:. The Macros for Word 7 and Word 97 are available in Word Templates to downloaded from the Exchange Center Convertor page. When you open the template all the instructions appear as a Word document in Word. I had more errors with the new version Word 97 version but it was quicker to do a bit of hand crafting than spend time fine tuning the proceedure. The problem was not in the conversion but seemed to be Words ability to read the .PAB file as a mail merge input.

    How will we use the CompuServe SMTP/POP3 mail? At present I have run some tests but do not plan to use it all the time so I have set the SMTP reply address to pcurtis@compuserve.com and set up an extra profile for Outlook/Exchange with Internet Mail instead of CompuServe Mail. The SMTP mail integrates much better with the Internet - for example, Emails buttons on web sites and inputs to newsgroups - as most Internet Email and Newsgroup readers expect POP3/SMTP to be available. It will also allow much easier access whilst we are away from home as one can get at POP3 mail from any machine with a basic Email system. Why not the whole way? - I like the integration we have of CompuServe Mail and Outlook - it does not use a TCP/IP link so it is subjectively much faster to connect, log in and download although I need to quantify that. I also like the fact that the CompuServe Mail Service produces an Event message in ones inbox so you know that your mail has gone and with two of us using the machine we can check easily if either of us have done a recent mail check.

    19th April 1998

    Incorrectly Addressed Mail: We have recently received a of number incorrectly addressed messages with long attachments from a firm in the Netherlands. This is very costly on a mobile - two have been so big the take approximately 20 minutes to download so, after a warning, I have started to invoice the firm for the costs. "Remote Mail", where one looks at the Mail Headers online before downloading, is a way round this but is not available with the CompuServe Mail Service in Messaging or Outlook so we have to download all the Messages. This has been fine up till now as we wanted most of the mail and the downloading a few short junk Emails on a fast link has been a minimal overhead and well within the minimum call cost time. The only other option we have is to go into Compuserve itself to identify the problem mail and delete it - a wasteful online activity and by the time one knows one has a problem it is too late! I have therefore been carrying out some further tests using the new POP/SMTP Mail option in CompuServe which supports Remote Mail.

    Remote mail: Mail is accessed in two stages using the Outlook Remote Mail facility - firstly one requests a download of the headers which automatically connects and disconnects via the modem and Dial Up Networking (DUN). The headers appear in the Inbox and one can Delete, Download the Message or Download a copy of the Message. This is a good way to proceed if one is going to regularly sort and choose not to download big messages (or wait till one is on a fast link). If this is not the case it is a waste of time because one incurs two sets of overheads in connection time and both are longer because of the use of DUN rather than a simple modem link.

    28th April 1998

    Dell Upgrades: The last few days have been taken up with upgrading the Dell with an extra 32 Mbytes of memory replacing the original 8 Mbytes to give a total of 48 Mbytes and a new Quantum Fireball 2.1 Gbyte drive. The old drive was completely full with the OU programmes and Office 97 was slowing down with only 24 Mbytes of memory. It was also time for a rebuild of the software as there were a few anomalies at times - I had updated to Internet Explorer 4.01 but that had not made any difference.

    Memory upgrade: The machine did not leave the CMOS setup properly when the new larger memories were in the first slots but it was correctly identified when changed round - a BIOS anomaly by the look of it. The memory tests provided by Dell ran smoothly.

    Drive Upgrade: Likewise the Western Digital Drive did not like being the master to the new Ultra DMA Quantum Fireball and took an age to be identified and loaded in by the BIOS. The Quantum was therefore set as master from the start. FDISK was run to partition the drive into a primary 850 Mbyte and a secondary 1.2 Gbyte drive. I want to be able to do a tape backup onto a single tape from C: and also keep the wastage of space of a single large drive partition. I thought about going to FAT32 but want to keep compatibility with other machines as I have also purchased a couple of removable hard drive crates.

    OSR2 Installation: I then loaded Windows from a boot disk with CD drivers but on the first run it was unable to find all the files it needed. I therefore copied the CD to the Hard Drive secondary partition, reformatted the primary partition and reinstalled it all to be sure. I put in most of the options such as Fax, Direct Cable Connection at the start. Before proceeding too far I set up the Date, Keyboard etc and Loaded the printer drivers. I also loaded the tape backup software when it found the drive as new hardware.

    AWE64 Software installation: The AWE64 software gave problems, perhaps because I had let W95 load default drivers for sound by having the board plugged in when installing OSR2. It came up with messages that the software needed to be upgraded to a higher driver number whilst a look in Control Panel|Systems|Device Drivers showed the correct driver. I deleted all the multimedia drivers at which it "located new hardware" and loaded the drivers again from the CD and worked perfectly. Last time I had plugged the hardware into a working system so had not come across the problem - plug and play is not perfect.

    Reinstalling applications software: The rest was straight forwards but tedious - I have given some of the initial steps in the article Howto Install or Rebuild a Windows 95 System. Even with preparation and familiarity it takes time to configure all the programs, reinstall the desktop links and folders etc. One also has to find and copy all the dictionaries, templates etc and Office 97 has different default directories to Office 95 meaning that one has to search for them before copying. I intend to update my list of programs and the optimum order to load and also add some more notes on the configuration of each program. In all it took close to 12 hours including at least a couple of hours wasted reinstalling OSR2 and getting the AWE64 to work. It is too early to say if it was all worth it - The new drive was essential and the memory has speeded things up but it is too soon to comment on the benefits of a clean software system.

    Removable Drive: Once the system was up and running I installed a removable drive crate into the Dell allowing me to unlock and remove the main drive. I bought two crates from NovaTech and installed the Quantum drive in tray and my spare test drive in the other tray so I could swop them over for system development. The Western Digital drive which came with the Dell is now configured as the slave and shows up as the common D: drive. The crates have a key which switches the power off before one can remove the drive as a safety measure. This all works well and Pauline has the second drive for OU marking with both Word 6 and Office 97 installed along with IE 4.0 and WinZip 6.3. We have put the FirstClass OU Email and Conference system onto the common D: drive and also her My Teaching Directory so she can work from either drive when not using the ETMA system.

    8th August 1998

    Pauline's OU pages: Pauline's OU pages have taken most of the time over the summer. They gives easy access to her Presentations and a Resource Centre useful to Students and Tutors.

    Additional layers of support are provided in:

    Overall there must be well over a hundred screens worth on the 16 new pages with the distinctive new "OU Blue" background (as well as the hundreds of Powerpoint slides). We have started getting some very favourable feedback from Students, Tutors and even OU Staff the highlight being a Staff posting into one of the conferences giving the URL and a "must bookmark" endorsement. It has helped take the site hits up towards 50 a week.

    Mobile Computing Update: We have been out on the Narrowboat Corinna a lot over the summer and the Toshiba Libretto has been used extensively. We have had all the OU software available as well as the communications side. We have developed a routine whilst on the move of an early start and download of Email before 0700 whilst the mobile rates are cheap. The Motorola Cellect 1+ card works very well and the data compression is obviously working from the down and upload rates 2Kbytes second timed on the odd occasion - even so it is slower than the home system. We can collect and send Email even when the signal strength is dropping as low as 1 bar (out of 5) which is very marginal for voice. 2 bars steady and we are happy to access the Web. There have been few places other than our home area where we have not been able to connect from the boat and we have only had to sit on the roof a couple of times. Overall the combination of Cellnet, Motorola 8700 phone and Motorola Cellect 1+ card has exceeded our most optimistic expectations.

    3rd September 1998

    A number of developments have taken place over the last month since the "Diary" has been updated. They include installing NetMeeting 2.1, Outlook 98 and a trial of the latest FirstClass 5.5 client for the OU Email and Conferencing system. We have also gone back to using the POP3/SMTP on CompuServe and have changed all the FirstClass connections to be via TCP/IP so we can save phone bills by using one minimum cost connection and overhead time for three Email systems plus Web/e-TMA pickup - it exercises the mind and fingers! In addition the way we are using our hardware has changed to reflect the removable C: (and E:) drive with a fixed D: drive so that Email remains accessible in both configurations and we can do some data backup without using the tape drive.

    NetMeeting: We have downloaded Netmeeting which is the Video Conferencing software provided by Microsoft. On paper it offers interesting possibilities for not only cheap phone calls round the world but also for teaching with electronic tutorials becoming a real possibility even without any special equipment. We would like to investigate by a trial "meeting". If anybody reading this has used it and/or would like to experiment please Email me. For those who know nothing about it offers over a standard dial-up TCP/IP link.

    How to get it: It is free via a 2 Mbyte download from Microsoft - see http://www.microsoft.com/netmeeting for details, download and a comprehensive tutorial.

    Video Camera: There are many cheap video camers available for videoconferencing on home PCs at about £100 but we we found that our existing video camera can be linked via our Hauppauge WinTV PCI card to NetMeeting saving cost. We needed to download some new drivers to get this to work from the Hauppauge site. Audio and Video will be ideal for one on one meetings and general conversation round the world.

    The Whiteboard seems the most useful feature for tutoring. One can have multiple pages and load an existing file at the start which one can then use as a "presentation". A trial 8 page presentation in Vugraph type format with a few "pen" drawings is only 10K and updates fast but even a couple of small screen grabs took it over 500K - they seem to be stored as uncompressed bit maps which take up a huge amount of space and transfer time.

    Servers: The connection for videoconferencing is made via an Internet Location Server (ILS) which one logs into and it displays ones EMail address and what sort of meeting you are looking for (Business, personal or adult). You can also log in without being displayed for contact with people who already know you address and they can "ring" you. We have found a big list of servers as well as the Microsoft ones and there is one in UK managed by Demon which seems quiet (10 in directory on Sunday) with a low percentage seeking Adult entertainment which seems to dominate the Microsoft fora. Demon is also on the Internet backbone so it should be fast. Address is ils.demon.co.uk.

    Online System tests: I have had one meeting with someone from Edinburgh who was also looking for someone to try the system out with whilst logged into the Demon ILS. That confirmed that our video could be received and that we have full audio. We tried chat and the Whiteboard which confirmed that only one person needs to open the Whiteboard or chat initially - I am not sure what happens when extra people join when the links are running.

    Local Tests: More important from the development point of view I have set up a link to our Libretto using a null modem cable. Audio and video do not work locally, possible because the Libretto does not have a microphone so the setup could not be completed but one could run Chat, the Whiteboard, share programs and send files. We have confirmed on the local trial that unsynchronising allows simultaneous use of different pages. The serial link was set slowish deliberately (56K) so one could estimate what would happen over a TCP-IP link. I will run some more trials with reducing speeds down to a more realistic speed of say 9.6 Kbaud.

    Thoughts on NetMeeting for Tutorials: The Whiteboard seems to have most to offer for tutorials with several students. The secret is going to be keeping the workload on the tutor down and getting interaction and inputs from the students in a controlled manner especially as everyone has simultaneous access to the board. When it comes to exercises one can unsynchronised so each student/group can work on a different page for a period. I have written a short Whiteboard presentation to introduce "students" to Netmeeting interactively and we will try that out when we can find some volunteers.

    NetMeeting "Howto" technical article: The above has now formed the basis of a new Netmeeting "Howto" article and I hope to turn it into a suitable briefing document for students/tutors who plan to use NetMeeting. Further development will be recorded on the new page - have a look at Using NetMeeting for Tutoring - an initial assessment of possibilities

    Outlook 98: We have had this available on a front cover CD for a while and got round to loading it on the trial drive. The main worry was that the massive folder file would not be backward compatible with outlook 97 on the Libretto but that does not seem to be the case. The folder structure is extended and the existing folder is changed on the install but after that it works with both versions. We set it up to share the mailbox.pst file on D: using Outlook 97 on one removable drive and Outlook 98 on the other. Outlook 98 handles some of the new Email formats which were fooling CompuServe Mail and Outlook 97 such as the new HTML standard. We have had to go to the CompuServe POP3/SMTP to get the full benefits and even then the forwarding service loses some of the formatting. We are going to have to bite the bullet soon and Email everyone on our address list and ask them to use pcurtis@csi.com rather than pcurtis@compuserve.com.

    Outlook 98 Overall is a worthwhile upgrade and it is now much more clear whether you are sending or receiving mail as Plain Text, RTF, HTML or Word Documents. The replies are now automatically matching the incoming format. We can now put pictures into Emails, format text with fonts and colours, use lists and even have coloured backgrounds. The other major gail is that one can configure all the toolbars - a major shortfall in Outlook 97. The downside is that it needs and loads IE 4.01 so we are afraid it will slow the Libretto down if we change.

    FirstClass 5.5: FirstClass is the Email and Conferencing system produced by SoftArc who claim it is now the number 4 server system in the world. It is certainly very good and integrates Email, Conferences and Web access well - it is mandatory for many OU Courses for Students and Tutors. Version 5.5 has just become available (3rd September 1998) and we have downloaded and installed it [successfully]

    The procedure to follow at your own risk is :-

    Problems: We have one serious problem in that we can not get it to replicate using the Replicate Now button - I have to go into the Configure Offline screen and use Connect Now. I have Emailed Softarc as it looks like a bug. Look in our Technical "Howto" Articles under Making best use of OU FirstClass for more about Offline use and Replication

    First Impressions of FirstClass version 5.5 It looks a significant rather than major improvement in that all windows have their own toolbars rather than be in a "background" window and they can be configured independently. There is also new support for integrating POP/SMTP email which we have not investigated.

    Dixons Freeserve: Dixons have started to provide a free ISP service which we have registered for. It looks very good, in particular for OU students and we have started to use it ourselves and set up a friend with a small business with Email and a web site. There are a number of problems id one just loads their CD so there is now a Freeserve Guide in the Howto Technical Articles series. We are currently keeping it separate of the other Email so have set up Outlook Express to handle the mail on the Dell and Internet Mail on the Libretto.

    Internet Mail Setup: The proceedure on the Libretto to set up Internet Mail from scratch was to start Internet Mail from the start menu and - like most of the Microsoft packages - it automatically takes one through a setup wizard the first time you call it. The sequence for Internet Mail askes the following questions for which I give answers for a John Smith who has registered john@jsmith.freeserve.co.uk with password johnpass You can check or change the above from the pull down menu Mail->Options on the Server and Connection tabs. These tabs also allow you to disconnect after the call has finished and to set a reply address. The other tabs are self explanitory and allow a lot of customisation. Outlook Express is very similar although you may have to check the defaults more carefully on the Options tab for the sort of mail it uses. HTML mail allows formatted mail but many will not be able to display it properly.

    Internet News: Once you have Internet mail running you can set up Internet News in the same way as above with the news server set to news.freeserve.net. The new Outlook Express is much better and integrates both into the one package but needs Internet Explorer 4 to be loaded which is we have not done on the Libretto.

    Using Multiple ISPs and Changing your ISP: This is a complete topic in its own right and we are starting a new page to cover this called Using Multiple ISPs which will explain how to set your default Dial Up Network (DUN) Connection for your browser and the principles of how to convert and use Email when there are a number of ISPs and connections. It will also give some guidance on newsgroups and newsgroup readers.

    10th December 1998

    Site changes: During the last few months we have experimented more with Freeserve and other ISPs such as Telinco. Freeserve has proved much faster and more reliable than CompuServe and now gives 15 Mbytes of web space. Our site is now fully mirrored at http://www.corinna1.freeserve.co.uk and extensions will use the extra web space now available. CompuServe has been so unreliable that you should bookmark the new site immediately.

    The Technical Howto Articles series has been extended considerably and covers Freeserve and a competitor Telinco in some detail. The current state of play is:

    Site traffic has increased dramatically and we have seen more hits in the last 4 months than in the previous two and a half years. We have used Web Counter for 2 years but it is no longer available to new users so I started the search for an alternative. I discovered that the latest counters provide statistics on the visitors to your site in various ways. They can obviously record the domain name of the visitor and the more clever ones access various bits of information on the computer which is downloading the image via some java script on your page. This information is uploaded as a parameter to the call for the image and stored away until you ask for it from the site providing the service.

    TheCounter.com: We have added counters to a number of pages, all from TheCounter.com as it is reported to the best currently available. It gives you loads of statistics, and you have the choice between showing an advert (for the service), counter + advert, counter, or absolutely nothing, and it is also free. The statistics provide statistical information on the screen resolution, browsers used, java enabling as well as lots of other things to help one optimise the site design. It also gives information on the actual referal domains and visitors domain for the last 10 visits. Very informative. The page in the Technical Howto Articles has been updated:

    Christmas newsletter: This year we have used a graphical "calender style" layout for the Chrismas Newsletter

    26th December 1999

    Arachnophilia 3.9 I have been looking for a modern shareware replacement for WebEdit to complete my Web Tutorial. A number of postings and magazines have referered favourably to Arachnophilia so I downloaded it from http://www.arachnoid.com/arachnophilia. First impressions have been very favourable and it seems to do almost everything that I could do in WebEdit 2.0 and has a number of extra features. Time will tell which gets used most but the only significant shortfall which will ensure I still use WebEdit on occasion is that there is no spell checker. I can not find anything else major which is missing - some things have to be done differently and some seem less intuitive but in its favour are many extra features and checking. Both are basically HTML Editors not WYSIWYG HTML generators which is what I want. Both have the ability to display the results in a separate window - Webedit only displays up to HTML 2 although the Tags go to HTML 3. Arachnophilia needs Internet Explorer 4 loaded to provide the internal real time display window but is quite happy with up to six different browsers to provide external displays.

    Arachnophilia features: The first feature one sees in Arachnophilia is that it colours tags and does some real time checking for mismatched brackets. keeping to the theme of checking and display it provides site analysis tools which check for link integrity throughout the site and page layout and analysis tools to do check tag matching and overlapping etc on the page. These tools have both shown up previously unidentified errors on our site such as inconsistencies in cases which are OK on CompuServe but would cause problems on Freeserve. Arachnophilia allows one to define ones own additional tags and macros increasing it's power and helping proof it against new developments. Tags can be added via a main toolbar and a number of subsiduary configurable toolbars. In addition there are very powerful context sensitive right click menus. Click with cursor in a color tag and you get a palette to change it. Click in a local link and a file box opens. Click in a selection and one option is to create a list and so on. You can also open or drag and drop from an RTF and it will automatically convert to HTML. Tables and conversion to tables are equally well supported. It will pay the user to spend an hour or two exploring the help files to discover the major features - I suspect I have missed many of them.

    Careware Arachnophilia is CareWare - it does not cost money it requires a different form of payment. It is best to go to the site and read about the careWare concept yourself but to give an idea I quote an example of a deal to obtain Arachnophilia:

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    Copyright © Peter and Pauline Curtis
    Most recent significant revision: 26th December, 1998
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