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Published 22-Nov-2001
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webWiz Online is published fortnightly, usually a fortnight before publication in print in The Waranga News.
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© webWiz Online 2000-1

  Modems Part 3  

This is the last week of talking about modems and phone lines. Why? Well, it's simple really - webWiz finally got his phone line seen to - there weren't enough volts on the line. The modem is back to connecting at speeds webWiz was accustomed to before all the fuss started in late September.

Even though webWiz had to endure a completely dead line for a few days before those-who-know-best would admit it was the line and not the modem, all is now back to normal (so to speak).

When you think the condition of your phone line has degraded, webWiz's advice is to keep a written record of your connection speeds when you log on to the 'Net. Just hover the mouse over the flashing green icon in the bottom right corner of your screen or double-click on it. Another indication of the condition of your line might be when callers tell you they think you sound like you're talking from inside a cave or tunnel and there's a constant hum on the line. Of course, the line might degrade to the point of going dead!

webWiz hasn't much faith in the Internet Assistance Self Help Program ( but would like to have a hand in how the $50 million is spent. Asking home users to fiddle with modem initialisation strings is a bit much. Then there's that "115200" number: it's the speed at which bits of information are passed inside the computer between the modem port and processor (CPU). Depending on the type of modem and the processor, a speed of 57600 bits/sec can be quite adequate.

Leaving aside phone line troubles, on a weekly basis clean out files in the Temporary Internet Files folder (right-click on the IE icon on your desktop, choose "Properties", then, on the "General" tab, click "Delete"). It's not a bad idea, either, to clean out the history folder while you're there. This weekly job will mean that next time you visit your favourite sites for the first time they'll take a bit longer to load but you'll have got rid of all the other clutter.

  The Automatic Home  

Lights that turn on and off at set times, bringing the morning coffee to the perfect temperature, opening and closing blinds for efficient heating and cooling - in summary, the automatic home. Yes, there are devices now available to link up with software on your computer to carry out many household tasks. Visit some of this week's sites for more details, particularly the X10 Ideas and the DIY Home Automation sites. webWiz didn't find any mention of an automatic iron, by the way.

  Computer Shopping  

In the last column, webWiz suggested shopping around to a budget. There are two specialist areas of computing, though, where you'll have to spend more money.

Firstly, if you're going to seriously involve yourself with digital video editing, you'll need to spend about $5,000 for a capable machine. The main costs incurred will be purchasing a system with adequate, fast hard drives (yes, drives) and DVD-R on which to store the output of your video edits.

As well, the computer requires FireWire support to transfer the video from the camcorder to the computer. The reason for two hard drives and FireWire is that digital videos, even though compressed in the camcorder, still take up a great deal of space - about 20 minutes of video consumes 4 Gigabytes of space.

Serious 3D gamers are the second area of specialisation. You'll need to look for a computer with a high-quality 3D graphics card and one of today's fastest processors. As well, you'll want a good sound system (probably one of the 5.1 surround systems) to be immersed completely in the action.

  Weblogs & e-Journals  

The Web is not only a vast resource of information - there are numerous opportunities for everybody to give something back, including expressing an opinion on whatever topic takes a person's interest. Weblogs, or if your prefer, e-journals, are one such way of expressing your thoughts.

The main problem is to find a weblog that has your interests. Begin at Blogger or the Aussie Blogs. If you're so inclined, by all means set up your own blog, bearing in mind that there's some work involved every day to keep your online posts up to date.

  Farm Subsidies  

U.S. farm subsidies are of concern to Australian farmers trying to increase their share of the U.S. and world markets. webWiz came across the U.S. Environmental Working Group's Farm Subsidy Database the other day. Access the information by state, county or city.


With Liverpool flags at half mast on November 30 in memory of George Harrison, you may want to catch up on his songs and lyrics at one of his fan sites.

December 5, 100 years ago, was the birthdate of Walt Disney and there are a number of sites celebrating his career, as well as legendary characters such as Mickey Mouse.

webWiz has given up on doing rain dances and is currently trying the Summer Storms screensaver, complete with lightning, thunder and the pitter-patter of rain (as a reminder of what falling rain sounds like). At the time of writing, there have been about ten real drops. If you'd like a Christmas screensaver (although it's for the northern hemisphere), download "3D Christmas in the City".

Other snippets this week include a look at Pocket PC models, a review of the different consoles now available for gamers, travel tips for the elderly and disabled in these security-conscious times, and Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia being built from scratch.


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