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Published 10-May-2001
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All this week's Wiz!


Trains? Planes? Cars? Sewing? Gardening? Writing computer programs? Australian radio? Toys? Where does one start with a topic like hobbies? To get some idea of what's available online, could webWiz suggest you begin at the Open Directory where you'll find over 30,000 hobby sites listed.

Well, webWiz took his own advice. You'll see from this week's sites and the new categories in the hobbies section of the webDirectory that there's no shortage of information and opportunity to further your own enthusiasm.

Of course, the easiest way to get involved is to share your knowledge of your particular hobby through your own web site. At least, join a mailing list or put some posts to one of your hobby's newsgroups.

R-704 at AHRS Vic Museum

  More Learning Sites  

There is never a shortage of sites to help with school and homework. This week for a change there are just a few directory-type sites that point you to other sites. You probably won't use, say the Internet Scout Project, every day but it'll be there for you when that more difficult assignment comes along.

  Web Graphics  

For those without a graphics editor, you can't do better than get the free, special edition of Paint Shop Pro from one of the popular computer magazine's May cover CDs.

This particular version of PSP lacks GIF image support, so necessary for web graphics. To overcome this shortcoming, download IrfanView, a free image viewer. Then you can save your images as WMFs in Paint Shop, load them into IrfanView, resize them if need be, and save them as GIFs ready for your web site.

  Learning to Program  

Computer programming is a hobby for many, especially since the availability of Visual Basic. A Windows programming language such as VB meant more could follow their special interest and produce programs they enjoyed creating. Just have a look at some of the Visual Basic sites listed in the webDirectory. In short, the existence of shareware and freeware owes much to keen hobbyists using Visual Basic.

If you'd like to write some programs, you don't have to begin by spending lots of money. Even if you don't have an Internet connection, you can use your browser and any simple editor (even Notepad!) to put together some lines of code and see what happens. And that's important! Programming is all about seeing the end result of writing some code - it has to give the result you intend!

Secondly, learn from other people. For example, take some lines of Javascript that do something to a web page and re-write that code into the Visual Basic Scripting language (assuming your browser is Internet Explorer), or viceversa. There are plenty of samples you can download from, say, the MSDN Internet samples site for you to try. Make some little changes, such as colours or text, and see if everything still works.

For something different, visit the Agent characters site to download a couple of characters and documentation. Then write some code to move the characters around the screen, make some gestures and carry out a conversation. This is a fun way to learn either Javascript or VBScript for web pages and dynmaic HTML.

  Windows XP Preview  

Windows XP (codenamed "Whistler") is due for release in late October 2001. There will be different versions according to user requirements, with a specific version for home users. The core of Windows XP in all versions will carry over from Windows 2000 and this entails a major shift in performance, requirements and stability for home users in particular.

There are a number of Windows XP previews and reviews available online so visit Microsoft's site or ActiveWin's site. Once you see the screenshots you'll realise how much different XP is from Windows 9x/Me. Organisations still running Windows NT should read about how the clock is ticking down for them and how they need to prepare for the change to XP.

2001 - International Year of the Volunteer


Gamers can rejoice this week with some more sites that offer free games. In fact some of these games are small enough to fit on a floppy so if you're not online, ask a friend who can download them for you. Try Galactic Menace, a descendent of Space Invanders. In fact, ZapSpot have many similar free games for download.

You may find you've got to read documents that are in Adobe's PDF format from time to time when no other format is available. Although there is a free reader available, it could be more convenient to go online to goHTM ( and convert the document to web page format for no cost.

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