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Published 28-Feb-2002

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  Copy-protected CDs  

Not long before last Christmas, some of the record companies began writing hidden files onto their audio CDs to disable the ability to play these CDs on any computerised device, such as the CD player on your computer.

Of course, if you can't play this type of CD on a computerised player, then neither can you make a copy for personal use. You'll have to buy another copy if you want one copy at home and one copy in the car, for example.

There is a list of these disabled CDs at FatChucks, including titles copy-protected worldwide and in the Oceania region. You may be able to ask for an exchange but, because not all CDs are marked as being copy-protected, there's no guarantee you'll receive a good one in return.

This scheme may not have a good future because Phillips is one large company who opposes it and there is mounting consumer opposition to some of the plans of the big five record companies.


  Farm Subsidies  

This topic was mentioned in a past column but recently webWiz heard one of the members of the Environmental Working Group's Farm Subsidy database site (www.ewg.org/farm/) interviewed on the ABC Country Hour. As well, ABC Landline featured a story on European and U.S. farm subsidies some months ago.

A visit to the EWG site is worthwhile to see which U.S. farmers get the U.S. Government's subsidies. More interesting are the recipients who might be described as unlikely recipients: Fortune 500 companies, farms which receive more than $US1 million and which major cities are also eligible.


  Spreadsheets  

VisiCalc was the title of the first spreadsheet application that became available in the late 1970's and business then had a use for the newly introduced personal computer. Since that time, spreadsheets have resulted in many a grey hair, hours of frustration and boredom, and, worse, occasional erroneous financial results.

To ease spreadsheet-agony, take advantage of the templates installed with your office application which you can access when you open a new file. If none of these satisfy your requirements, there are many free templates available on the Web. Microsoft's Office template gallery has all types available and the Microsoft Works site has several, all for free download.

If you want to design and layout your own spreadsheets, then webWiz has a couple of rules. The first twenty rows are reserved for instructions on how this particular spreadsheet is to be used, where various items of data are to be entered, where various totals and check totals are to be found, and what formulas are used in which cells or range of cells.

The next ten rows are reserved for summary totals. This implies totals of columns or rows will have to be copied from the bottoms of columns or ends of rows. Using this layout, all the main information is at hand and eliminates scrolling all around the spreadsheet to find the results.

Spreadsheets are mathematically based and you may need to catch up on some of your school maths to ensure the spreadsheet is giving correct values. Look up your spreadsheet's help content to check how values are rounded up or down. Read through the help to review how decimal numbers, floating point numbers, currency values and general numbers are handled.

Take advantage of various features in your spreadsheet. For example, learn out to fill cells in a row or column with successive dates or numbers. The more powerful spreadsheets now enable you to distribute your work across several workbooks or worksheets. If, for example, you're entering monthly figures, use one workbook per month and a thirteenth for each month's summarised figures and yearly totals.

In summary, you can ease some spreadsheet-agony by laying out on paper where you want to place your data in your spreadsheet. Try to keep all the data and information visible on your screen; in other words, minimise any need for scrolling around to find results. Use the top rows for instructions on how the spreadsheet works, what formulas are used and where they're located. Allow a few rows, too, for notes on any revisions you make, when you made them and the reason.


  My Documents  

A reminder to make good use of the My Documents folder in Windows. There are already a couple of subfolders created for you after Windows is installed but you're free - in fact, encouraged - to add your own.

Think about what type of documents you frequently work with and how best to organise these. Then make a folder under My Documents, and if needs be, create subfolders under this general folder. For example, if you are scanning photographs, create a folder under My Documents called "Photo Folio". Then under "Photo Folio", create sub-folders for different subjects that have been photographed. For example, you might have separate sub-folders for family photos, scenery, travel and sporting events.


  Rushcomhouse MyInternet  

Once you've opened an Internet access account at Rushworth Community House, not only can you use your email account and browse the Web from the computers there but you can also access your account from any computer connected to the 'Net, whether it be from home or while you're travelling.

In your browser, simply add "MyInternet" to the Web address for the Rushworth Community House site: www.rushcomhouse.vic.edu.au/myinternet/ will bring up the login name and password entry dialogue box.


  webSnippets  

There are a variety of sites for you to visit over the next fortnight. March 2002 is women's history month, and as well its own site, there are several where you can read about famous women.

Lovers of language and words might want to browse through their favourite dictionary to find pairs of words which, when entered into the search field at the Google search engine site, bring up only one match. This activity has become known as "Google Whacking" and the creators of this activity have a list of pairs of words giving a single match at their site, www.googlewhacking.com.

Remaining on the subject of searching, Scirus is a search engine dedicated to helping the scientific community find resources on the Web. A reminder that, if you're looking for specific information, firstly try to find a search engine dedicated to matching requests in your particular area. To start, browse through the search engines listed in the webDotDirectory.

  
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