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Published 09-May-2002

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  Scanners & scanning  

Scanners are now becoming a valuable device to add to your computer system. Prices are reasonable and they enable you to share all those old photos that have spent years in albums and cupboards.

The only bugbear is getting accustomed to making the difference between what's possible and what's reasonable. There's no point in scanning a photo, for example, at a resolution of 2400 dpi. Adjust your scanning software to the resolution of your printer at the most. Otherwise, if your photos will be only placed on your web site, you can reduce the scanning resolution.

Images can have their resolution reduced without too much degradation in quality but you can't achieve the reverse process. Graphics software increases resolution by guessing at what pixels to add to the picture so quality suffers.

In most instances, you'll want to save your photos in the JPEG format as a jpg file. JPEG caters for gradual colour changes whereas the GIF format is only suitable for graphics with clear cut colour areas in the graphic.

Windows XP users remember that your operating system is aimed at achieving a given task and you don't need to think about which program to run. For scanning, go to Start then My Pictures. From the left pane, choose scanning to have the XP wizard take you through the necessary steps.

  Win XP Themes  

A normal installation of Windows XP doesn't offer any variety in visual styles - choose between the classic or luna views. There is the Plus! pack for purchase but it seems overpriced.

However, there are number of sites offering free visual styles, wallpapers and login screens. Try those in this week's sites' list; each has a wide range to choose from and you should find several to suit your needs.

Remember, too, to be the envy of those with earlier versions of Media Player by downloading the free Media Player XP Bonus Pack - it contains some very handy tools for your music tracks and graphics images.

  Homework Help  

The area of the webDirectory that gets most sites added to every week is Homework Help, across all subject areas. So it's worth checking at least once a week for sites that will help with school work. There's a wide-ranging search engine on the main Homework help page to guide you to more sites when required.

Take advantage of any site offering a newsletter that lists sites. Over time you can build up a good list of sites in your favourites and more quickly research your assignments, revise a topic or take some quick quizzes.

Sometimes you may need to access other areas of the webDirectory for more in-depth information. This is especially true for science (biology, chemistry, environment or physics).

  Phone lines  

webWiz's phone line hasn't been behaving itself lately. How does he know? Well, it's becoming more difficult to get stay online without a disconnection, especially at around 9 o'clock in the morning. Connection speed is about normal but after a few minutes webWiz's modem decides it's all too much and drops its speed while it tries to cope with the noisy line. Naturally, it reaches the point where it gives up.

Contrary to an opinion expressed on the IAP Self Help site that 56k modems are "relatively new technology", this type of modem is on its last legs. Unfortunately, for those of us without any hope of seeing some type of broadband service, whether cable or ADSL, we'll have to continue to cope with phone lines made for the last century.


With the announcement of the U.S. Farm Bill legislation, it's a good time to revisit the U.S. Farm Subsidy Database site to check who gets all the money. If you haven't already visited this site, you are in for a surprise! Many large cities and companies are among the largest beneficiaries of the U.S. government's largesse, not necessarily the farmers themselves.

At the end of the month, the World Cup in Korea and Japan kicks off. For all the best in soccer news, go to the SBS World Game site. As well, SBS will be televising all matches during the course of the tournament.

With such clear weather at the moment, some sky gazing might interest you. During the next couple of weeks, the planets will be in alignment and it's going to be a long time before it occurs again. Because Mercury is one of the planets and it is never far from the sun, you'll need a clear view fairly close the horizon early in the evening.

Remember to visit webTrainSim for the latest news about downloads and tips. There are now pages to help you adjust the horsepower and tractive effort of the Australian NR class locos and the NSW class 81 and 82 locos to realistic values.