New program gives easier access to InternetQ: I use...

COMPUTER Q & A

August 16, 1993|By Knight-Ridder Tribune

New program gives easier access to Internet

Q: I use several of the popular computer information services such as CompuServe, America Online, Prodigy and MCI Mail. I've become addicted to them! The wealth of information and communication services they offer are useful to me both personally and professionally. I recently heard about another service called Internet, but I can't find it. Can you tell me what Internet offers and where I can locate it?

A: Since telling you about the Internet could easily fill this newspaper, I can only scratch the surface.

First, the Internet is not a centrally located commercial service like the others you mentioned. The Internet is a collection of thousands of separate networks with millions of users who share a common communications protocol.

And although each network usually has someone in charge, the Internet really doesn't have an official someone running it. It's run by a group of volunteers called the Internet Society. Their mission is to keep the Internet running smoothly and promote exchange of information.

Created as a government defense communication network called ARPAnet, the Internet has grown to include thousands of universities, businesses and individuals all over the world.

The information available is almost too vast to estimate. Information includes everything from the holdings of the Library of Congress to network news hot off the wire. Electronic mail is another valuable function. You can instantly and inexpensively send E-mail to anyone on the Internet.

The one barrier to the Internet is its cryptic command structure. It's called Unix. Most of the computers on the Internet use it. If you thought DOS was tough, Unix makes DOS look like a Macintosh.

Funny I should use that comparison, because Ventana Press has just introduced a Macintosh book and program that allows Mac users to access Internet quickly and easily. The Mac Internet Tour Guide is an easy-to-understand book that assumes you know nothing about Internet. The program uses the Mac's familiar windows and dialogue boxes that visually depict their functions. The book also includes information that tells you how to locate service providers in your area. The Mac Internet Tour Guide sells for $27.95.

Ventana Press: (919) 942-0220

Motorized scanner eliminates the jitter

Q: We've been shopping around for an inexpensive flatbed color scanner. Evidently, the words "inexpensive" and "color" don't go together. The least expensive scanner sells for about $1,000.

My wife and I want to start a small desktop publishing business with the smallest outlay of funds. I already have the computer and publishing software. We'll use a professional service for printing. Can you help with the scanner?

A: Color scanners allow you to transfer a color picture or drawing directly into the computer. Once scanned and with the proper software, the image can be modified in almost any way imaginable and then placed anywhere within a document.

Starting a small desktop publishing business is fairly simple and has proven to be a lucrative application for a personal computer. The color scanner is notorious for being an expensive piece of hardware.

One solution is to buy a hand-held scanner. Unlike their flatbed counterparts, they are smaller and fairly inexpensive. But the flatbeds are easier to use and produce better results.

A flatbed works like a copying machine. You lift the hinged cover and place the document to be scanned face down on the glass plate. A light bar moves and scans the picture directly into the computer.

With a hand-held scanner, you manually move the small device over the image. The irregular motion and awkward movements of the hand-held version can cause a certain amount of distortion.

Microtek has come up with a better way. They've added a motor to the hand-held unit. Its ScanMaker Scooter moves itself. No more jitter.

Simply place your photo into the provided TrackPad tray. Using the tray's left and right guide rails, the Scooter moves itself accurately along either side of the length of the image. Pick the Scooter up and put it down on the other side to complete the scan.

The included software's automatic merging function processes the overlap area and creates a seamless finished scan. No more mismatched or ragged scans, often found with manual scanners.

Scooter's scanning ability matches today's quality flatbeds. It scans with a 400-dot-per-inch resolution that can see 16.7 million colors or up to 256 shades of gray. The ScanMaker Scooter is available only for IBM compatibles running Windows 3.1. The scanner sells for $549.

Microtek Lab Inc.

(213) 321-2121

(Craig Crossman is the host of a weekly radio show, Computer America, heard nationwide. Send questions in care of Business Monday, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla. 33132. Please include your phone number.)

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