Dear Diary: Keep a log on your PC with Notepad HELP LINE

December 21, 1998|By James Coates | James Coates,Chicago Tribune

Do you know of any company selling software to record a daily diary type of input? Any of the diary functions I have found are really calendar functions and not a true diary or journal keeper.

A little-known feature of Microsoft Windows is a diary function written into the Windows Notepad software designed to allow one to create simple text files on the fly.

Open Notepad and type .LOG (uppercase is required) at the beginning of the text field. Then name the file and save it where you can find it easily at the end of each day. I call my current diary file DECLOG.TXT. (December Log).

Each time you open a file with .LOG as the first line, the software automatically moves to the bottom of existing text and prints the time, the date and the year for your next entry.

You can then type in the day's journal entry using Notepad's limited word-processing features, which are more than adequate for the Dear Diary type stuff.

Next day, open your .LOG file again and repeat as desired.

A Notepad file can only be 16,000 bytes long - a tad over 3,000 words. So once one fills up, you just start another.

I subscribe to Consumer Reports online and sometimes I want to copy their articles and paste them to a word-processing program. However, I would like to include their graphs, which do not appear when I try to copy them.

Virtually all graphs and charts on Web pages are simply photographs embedded in the on-screen text. The text, as you note, can be painted with a computer mouse and copied into the computer memory and then pasted into a word-processing program. You can't paint pictures as you paint text, however.

To copy those charts you need to move the cursor arrow over each and then click the right mouse button. In the window that pops up, choose Save Picture As. (If you choose the .bmp format in that window you can later open the picture in the Paintbox program built in to Microsoft Windows.) You then choose Edit/Select All and Copy.

Then call up your word processor and click where you want the chart and then type in Control + V (Move) and the graphic will be pasted into your document.

I have a Gateway computer with Windows 98 running. My problem is that when I bought the computer, the auto play function on the CD-ROM worked fine. Somewhere along the line, the auto play feature stopped functioning.

Audio CDs still automatically start to play when inserted, but not the CD-ROMs. Gateway suggested that I call McAfee to inquire about some sort of virus. I downloaded the latest .dat files from them and ran my Virus Scan but no virus was detected.

It's likely that it's no virus, but McAfee's own virus-checking software that's to blame. Virus checkers can poll the CD drive at the same time your operating system is checking it for any recent commands such as auto run, causing a conflict.

You can either solve the problem by temporarily disabling the virus checker while using CD-ROMs or just put up with the glitch and run them manually. To do this, just right-click on the CD drive icon and select the choice "Auto Run" that pops up on CDs with software that includes this feature.

When I bought my IBM Aptiva computer two or three years ago it could handle the software that was out there. It had a 1.2-gigabyte hard drive, 16 megabytes of RAM, 8X CD-ROM and a 120 Mhz Pentium CPU. Now, however, even after adding 16 megs of RAM and another hard drive, it no longer has what it takes to run the software that I'm interested in - such as "James Cameron's Titanic" - which recommends a 200 Mhz CPU.

Is it worth upgrading my CPU or should I plan on getting a new computer? I'm not a gamer yet, but I do work with photos and would like to do some music composing and arranging.

Your already-obsolete Aptiva cost about $2,500 when you bought it just a couple years back, so the only good news is that you can move up to a far more powerful machine such as the Aptiva E2U for just a tad over $800 because you already own the monitor and speakers.

Check out that Aptiva and others at IBM's Web site (www.ibm.com) and you'll quickly see that buying a new unit will cost about the same as buying upgrades for the pieces of your current system.

The AMD-K6 microprocessor and 3D video card in the $800 Aptiva are more powerful than anything you could get to upgrade your Intel Pentium in the current box.

Send e-mail to jcoateribune.com.

Pub Date: 12/21/98

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