To use Auto Complete, type less information

HELPLINE

March 26, 2001|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Please help me figure out how to use the automatic form-filling feature in the Microsoft Internet Explorer Web browser. When I start to fill out a form on some Web page or another, I hit the first keys for something like my name, and the whole thing appears in a box below, but I cannot get it to appear in the box that I am filling in.

It took me a spell, as well, to figure out how to make Microsoft's Auto Complete feature work while filling out forms at e-commerce Web sites, and Bill Gates' programmers should apologize for making it so awkward.

The trick is to type in just enough to make the software complete whatever you are typing. Once it is displayed in the little box below, you need to tap the cursor arrow-down key to highlight the phrase, then strike the Enter key. That will leave that particular line completed, and you can tap the Tab key to jump to the next box in the form to repeat the process. It just flat-out baffles me why Microsoft's software geniuses picked this badly nonintuitive method for implementing the wonderful timesaver that Auto Complete can be once you figure it out.

I have a Visioneer scanner that doesn't work well, and I even bought the TextBridge 9 optical-character-recognition professional software. Whenever I scan printed documents, I still get a mangled version, with lots of garbage and mistakes. Am I missing something? Is there any other software that can help me scan a page properly?

It is absolutely essential to set the resolution high enough for the images that are created when the scanner takes in each page of a document.

The software analyzes the image to figure out the letters that make up words. The better the resolution in the image, the more accurate the translation into computer text.

If you check the display that comes up automatically whenever your scanner is run, you will see a setting for resolution in terms of dots per inch. This has to be set at, at least, 400 DPI, and maybe even higher for your computer, to create copies of a printed page that are clear enough for the OCR software to translate into computer-readable text.

I have been getting lots of negative comments from techies who see me running Windows ME on my new computer. They asked me whether I realize that I took a big step backward by replacing Windows 98 with Windows ME. What is your opinion?

It's only we gearheads who should fret about how Windows ME blocks users from performing the sorts of fancy adjustments and tricks that we love to do.

In fact, it is becoming apparent that Windows ME was nothing more than an effort by Microsoft to put a new and somewhat simplified face on Windows 98, because the company fell behind in finishing the follow-on product that it really wants, Windows XP.

XP, which is due out this fall, will be the long-awaited joint-operating system that uses the exact same software for both the consumer version and the industrial-strength version for corporate customers.

Currently, consumers use Windows ME, while businesses run on Windows 2000, a far more stable program that lacks some of the multimedia foolishness consumers relish.

ME features include greatly improved ways of handling multimedia, including music, motion pictures and photographs.

It also improves many features, such as the built-in file-searching module.

Send e-mail to jcoates@tribune.com.

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