Go to Mouse icon when hourglass won't budge

Help Line

July 31, 2000|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

When I first purchased my Dell computer last year, the arrow on the screen would change into an hourglass when a file was to be opened, printed or whatever. The hourglass would change back to an arrow once the file opened or the task was performed. But now the hourglass does not change back to an arrow. It remains that way until I move the mouse vigorously or I perform a different application using the hourglass as if it were the arrow.

Just change the so-called scheme for mouse pointers on your computer to activate a new and slightly different set of cursors for hourglasses, arrows, insertion points and such. Open the My Computer icon on your desktop and then select the Control Panel folder and scroll down to the Mouse icon.

After clicking the Mouse icon, choose the tab marked Pointers on the display that comes up. There will be a heading for Scheme with maybe a dozen choices. Change from your current scheme to another one and, for reasons I don't grasp, the hourglass bug will self-destruct.

I am tempted to make the switch from Mac to PC, but I first need to know if I'll be able to convert my FileMaker Pro databases to the new format.

I have thousands of files in various catalogs that would be close to impossible to retype. A computer salesman tells me that there is conversion software available (Dataviz) but that it's difficult, time-consuming and imperfect. Do you think I should stick with Mac? Either way, it's getting to be time for a new computer.

FileMaker Pro for Windows accepts all of the stuff that you have created on your Mac over the past couple of years using FileMaker Pro for Macintosh. Apple Computer Inc.'s FileMaker subsidiary now creates its software to run on both Macs and PCs (though you do have to pay for each platform).

Likewise, Microsoft Corp. makes its Office 2000 and Microsoft Internet Explorer software for Mac and Windows. The biggest reason for moving from Macs to PCs, in my opinion, is that almost all new products are first created for the far more popular Windows platform and only move later - if at all - to the Mac side.

Since you don't sound like an early adopter of new technology, I would suggest you stick with the devil you know and get a spanking new Mac.

I am interested in finding software that would help me take scanned photographs and use them as needlepoint or quilt designs. Can you direct me to places to research this type of software?

I have a friend who loves needlepoint and who tells me that you are asking for trouble if you try to scan in a complex image (a grandchild's portrait, a landscape, etc.) and then render it in thread.

That said, the software that will put this kind of huge sewing job into your lap is EasyGrapher 97 by Davis Computer Services Inc. of New Orleans (www.easygrapher. com).

OK, I'm sold. AvantGo is exactly what I've been looking for - a Web service that transfers news clips from a variety of sources and puts them in a hand-held computer that I can take with me. I'm ready to take the plunge, only I'm not ready to plunk down $500 for a PocketPC (or Palm IIIc for that matter) just to use AvantGo. Are there any other more affordable options that will work?

How about $180? That's the bare-bones price for a Palm operating system-compatible Handspring Visor with the USB cradle you will need to connect it to a desktop PC or Mac to download those news stories from www. avantgo.com.

Even at a no-frills level, this little gem boasts 2 megabytes of memory, which will hold far more text than you'll ever read during a day's worth of cab rides, train commutes, waiting in lines and such.

AvantGo users download software that links their hand-helds to the Web site, and you subscribe to various downloads by specifying channels that include things like newspapers, wire services, online magazines, the entire text of books, specialty Web sites and data like airline schedules and travel directions. The cheap Visors can be had at www.handspring. com.

Check out www.palm.com and www.microsoft.com/pocketpc for information about other options.

Send e-mail to jcoates@ tribune.com.

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