of the hard work that went into the planning of Mini
Expo IV was evident in the list of sessions that
were planned for the day. It was tough deciding
which to attend, let alone deciding what to report
on. I chose to report on only two sessions so I
could also personally enjoy the remainder
unencumbered by taking notes.
Of the three morning sessions that
were offered, I elected to go to the session on
Blogs in which long-time CCS member Joe Nowak held a
question and answer session.
This session was so well attended
that President Al Cheeks was forced to move it from
the small classroom, where it was originally to have
been held, to the auditorium. This writer guessed
the attendance to be at somewhere around 100 people
for just this session.
Blogs, Internet-speak for web logs,
are becoming more and more popular as Internet users
around the world discover the ease with which they
can post anything they can think of for the world to
see. Joe showed us his blog which is a Google blog
located at .
Joe also posts blogs for the South
Suburban Chapter, the West Side Chapter, and the
Digital Imagery SIG.
Q: How does
the information flow? Can you give us a broad
overview of blogs in general?
A: The blogs
are a no-brainer way of building your own website; a
place where you can rant about whatever you want.
Some people have a political issue; they can write
about it there. It alleviates the necessity to
understand how to create a website yet it gives
anyone the opportunity to create his or her own very
basic site on the web.
Joe then changed streams and went to
Google. Google has the ability to set your own
personalized page. A Google account is required; it
is free. Joe’s is set up with the Weather, a Quote
of the Day and a Word of the Day. Some of the
features of Google that Joe demonstrated were:
view of the moon and where we have landed.
give you a list of the most popular searches.
On the Google page, click on More to
get more options; things like groups, catalogs, and
advanced web search features. Google also has a
feature that lets you check the weather for a
particular area by typing in
weather:60611. Substitute your zip code for
weather for your area.
Serenity movie:60611 will give
you all of the movie times and theaters where the
movie Serenity is playing in zip code 60611.
Simply substitute the movie name and your zip code
for the information about your choice of movies in
not only show you street maps like other mapping
programs, it also has a Satellite view as well as an
overlay view (Hybrid) that overlays the street names
onto the satellite maps shown. Satellite view works
for most, but not all, of the United States.
One of Google’s newest offerings is
Google Earth (earth.google.com)
Google Earth combines satellite imagery, maps and
the power of Google Search to put the world’s
geographic information at your fingertips.
Google Earth is a free program;
details are on the website.
The hour went by quickly and Joe
ended his session by inviting everyone to stop by
his blog, have a look around and make a comment.
This writer found the session to be very informative
and I personally encourage everyone to stop by
Take a look at the detail and be sure to zoom in as
close as you can for a good look at what the moon is
For the first afternoon session, I
decided to check out the offerings of
Computing magazine. Luke Vavricek (right)
introduced himself as the CCS rep.
All attendees to the session were
given the latest (October) issue of
Computing magazine as a gift. Smart computing is
a monthly computer magazine for all users of all
skill levels. It improves PC productivity with easy
to follow tutorials.
Users using Windows 98 and newer
will find the tips and tricks section to be
particularly valuable. The tech support section is
probably the most useful section of the website.
There is help in the What-To-Do-When sections and
help with things like Repairing Windows XP.
Luke then did a real time online
demonstration. Starting off with the latest issues
section, Luke pointed out that subscribers have
online access to all of their magazines, including
PC Today, Computer Power User, Reference Series and
A questioner from the audience asked
if back issues are available online. Luke showed the
site that contained all back issues back to when
Smart Computing was PC Novice back in 1992.
Information from all issues is searchable and
printable. There is also a feature that will enable
users to add articles to a personal library.
This feature is very useful for
times when you find yourself needing repeated access
to the same article or tutorial.
In their Worms and Viruses
section there is a rather lengthy explanation
section on many of the virus types and how to
eradicate them. There is also information on
where to get drivers and other information from many
hardware and software vendors.
also offers a completely free tech support
service by calling 800-368-8304. This phone number
is answered in Lincoln NE and lets subscribers and
non-subscribers alike get help with their computer
problems. While SC does not guarantee they
will always be able to solve problems, they
certainly will do their best to do so. If they can
help you, it’s an astonishing benefit, open to any
Attendees were also able to order
subscriptions to the magazine and many in attendance
Those who did not subscribe at MX-IV,
but who still plan to do so, are encouraged to call
Smart Computing to subscribe and, when they
do, to mention CCS. For its part in referring new
CCS receives one free subscription
for each five paid subscriptions that the magazine
receives. That should mean some nice drawing prizes
at future CCS events.
And in conclusion …
MX-IV continued the proud tradition
of CCS Users Helping Users, and the
volunteers who helped make the Expo a success are to
be heartily commended for their participation. It is
the volunteers, the people like Al Cheeks, Joe
Nowak, Jerry Sass, Stan Hungness, Beata Kernan, and
all the others giving that most precious commodity,
personal time, who help the Chicago Computer Society
thrive and survive. As has been mentioned, MXV is
already in the planning stages. Please, step forward
now and lend a hand.