The University of Pennsylvania's Online Computing Magazine

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Volume 11

April 1995

Q: I've tried to access the Curtis Organ music files with both the Mosaic and Netscape WWW browsers but have not been able to do so. Evidently I need something called a "helper app" to do this. What is it and where do I get it?

A: To access sound, video, and image files via the World-Wide Web, you need additional software known as "helper applications" on your Mac or Windows computer. Properly configured versions of Mosaic and Netscape will automatically launch the appropriate helper application when you try to read a file that requires it.

For example, to hear the Curtis music files you need an "audio player," such as SoundMachine for the Mac or MS Win v3.1 Sound Player for Windows. Additional helper applications supported at Penn are listed in the November 1994 Penn Printout on page 14 (electronic access in four formats from Most can be downloaded from a server at

Both Mosaic and Netscape are preconfigured to launch many popular helper applications. All you need to do is install the applications on your computer. To use Adobe Acrobat Reader, the helper application required to view PDF files (documents that retain their original fonts and graphics, such as the PDF version of Penn Printout), you need to configure Netscape and Mosaic yourself. Instructions, as well as the software, can be downloaded from the Adobe WWW site ( - Edda Katz, ISC Communications

Q: I just did some clean-up on my hard drive and then started WordPerfect 6.1 for Windows. All my preferences have changed. What can I do?

A: You probably deleted the WPCSET.BIF file when you did your clean-up. The WPCSET.BIF file contains settings and preferences information for WordPerfect. When this file is deleted, WordPerfect automatically creates a new one with generic settings and preferences. You need to recreate your settings and preferences. After doing so, make a copy of the file so that you are insured against accidental deletion or possible damage to the file in the future. - Caroline Ferguson, CRC

Q: I want to include sound files with a presentation I'm making. How can I determine the size of the sound files before actually recording them?

A: To calculate the approximate size for an 8-bit, monoaural, (i.e., not stereo) file, use this formula:

(number of seconds of audio) x (sample rate in kHz) = file size in Kbytes

For example, 7-seconds of audio recorded at 11 kHz would require approximately 77 Kbytes of disk space. If you're recording in stereo, you need to double the file size. Likewise, using 16-bit sampling doubles the file size again. So the same 7-seconds of audio recorded at 16-bit stereo at 44 kHz would take approximately 1.2 megabytes!

((((7 seconds) x 44) x 2) x 2) = 1,232 Kbytes - Mary A. Griffin, CRC

Q: I'm confused about the various IDs and passwords I need on PennNet and the Internet.

A: You and many other people! Penn's network-based services are housed on various computers, more or less analogous to offices in a protected complex; the complex and each electronic service have their own levels and types of security. Your PennNet ID and password are analogous to the key that lets you enter the complex. The PennNet computer then checks its database to verify that you are a bona fide member of the Penn community. Once you're "in," you can access specific services on other computers at Penn.

Additional IDs and passwords may be required for these computers, just as keys may be required for individual offices. The Library's catalog, Franklin, requires no further verification of your identity, while mail services, such as those on and, require their account-holders to enter a login (user) ID and password. When you set up an account for a service such as e-mail, you can make your ID and password identical to your PennNet ID and password if the system permits, or you may have to choose a different ID and password. The Library databases, such as PsychInfo and the OED, don't require you to set up an account but you must enter your SSN to verify eligibility when you access them. Still other services require you to enter "guest" as your user ID and your e-mail address as the password.

Your PennNet ID and password are also your keys to the worldwide Internet, which is a set of interconnected networks including PennNet. As with Penn services, the services (databases, libraries, etc.) on other Internet-connected computers may require additional IDs or passwords. - Edda Katz, ISC Communications

Q: Recently, I accidentally deleted some important files in my root DOS directory. How can I prevent that from happening in the future?

A: The easiest way to protect important files is to make copies of them and save them in a special subdirectory set up to protect against accidental erasure. Many of the files in your root DOS directory should be protected this way. To copy the most important files in five easy steps, follow these instructions:

  1. First go to the C: prompt and make sure that you are in the root directory by typing CD\
  2. Now type MD DIRECTORYNAME (Note: replace DIRECTORYNAME with a name appropriate for your special subdirectory in the line above and in the commands below. Good choices might be SPECIAL or PROTECT)

You will now have copies of your most important DOS and Windows system files in the directory that you created. If you accidentally delete an important file, you will be able to restore it from the copy in your new subdirectory. You should periodically go through the steps above to update your copies so that they remain current. - Joseph R. Harris, CRC

March 1995

Q: Some of the Macintosh Microsoft Word 6.0 menus seem to be quite a bit different from Word 5.1. I can't find the Format/Section or the Format/Document menus. How do I change the format of a section?

A: Word 6.0 for the Macintosh was changed to look exactly like Word for Windows. And Word for Windows does not have the Format/Section and Format/Document menus. To create a section, you must now select Break from the Insert menu. Once a Section Break has been created and appears on the screen, double-clicking on it will launch the Document Setup window in which you can change margin settings and layout options such as Section Break preferences. -- Mary Griffin, CRC

Q: I often get a busy signal when dialing the modem pool in the evening. What should I do?

A: The PennNet modem pool (898-0834) is usually quite busy from about 8 PM to 1 AM, Sunday through Thursday evenings. Below are some suggestions for dealing with this situation until Data Communications and Computing Services (DCCS) is able to expand the pool (currently consisting of three hundred 14,400 bps modems).

  • Try again: Since sessions average about 20 minutes, a line comes available every 4 seconds. (And note that each time you call - unless you hear a busy signal, which indicates that all of the modems in the pool are in active use or "connecting" - you will be assigned to the line least recently called. Thus it is counter-productive to dial any number in the pool except 898-0834. If you see a "ring-no answer," message, you were connected to a defective modem; try again.)

  • Switch some of your network activity to other hours. Over a typical week, the average utilization of the pool is only 195 lines out of 300.

  • If you are a student in one of the seven ResNet-wired dorms, get yourself an Ethernet card or adaptor; not only will you have a guaranteed connection but it will be dramatically faster.

  • Do e-mail offline if possible. If you do most of your e-mail from one modem-connected machine, consider switching to Eudora, which is designed for local preparation of mail to be sent later, and for batch downloading of incoming mail, which you can read and respond to offline. Even if you can't use Eudora, consider composing lengthy messages in a text editor, and then uploading (using, e.g., Kermit) or copy/pasting into your host-based mail system (such as Elm or All-in-1).

  • Refrain from staying connected longer than necessary, and from "recreational" uses of the network during peak hours.

  • If you are making a toll call to reach PennNet from New Jersey, Delaware, or the PA suburbs, consider subscribing to one of the many area Internet access services. You may save money while reducing demand for Penn's modems. See the Penn home page ( for details. -- Dan Updegrove, DCCS

Q: I'm using NewsWatcher to read Internet newsgroups from my Macintosh. When I go back to check for new postings, all the messages I had previously read are still there. I thought NewsWatcher was supposed to show only those I haven't read yet.

A: If you are reading messages from the Full Group List, you will see all messages in all newsgroups, even if you have previously read them. To set up NewsWatcher to manage messages for newsgroups you read, first create a personalized group window by selecting New Group Window from the File menu. Now either copy & paste or drag & drop your preferred newsgroups from the Full Group List to your new group window and then save the group window using the Save command under the File menu. Your group window will show the newsgroups you selected (subscribed to) and the current number of unread messages. Remember that newsgroup messages aren't maintained indefinitely. After a certain period of time, the oldest messages are dropped from the list whether you have read them or not. -- Kristin Nelson, CRC

February 1995

Q: I've seen confusing reports about a defect in the Pentium processor. My department purchased four Pentium systems last semester, and I'd like to know whether to request a replacement chip.

A: The flaw in the Pentium processor affects the accuracy of the floating point divide instruction for specific combinations of specific numbers. For general-purpose use (e.g., word processing, database, multimedia, or entertainment applications), the processor flaw will have no effect. However, if you are using an application that requires mathematical precision (e.g., statistical software such as SAS or SPSS, some spreadsheet software, or graphics-intensive software such as Photoshop), you should definitely request a replacement Pentium chip. If you are uncertain, take the safest route and request a replacement.

If you have an ISC-supported Dell Pentium system, call Dell's special Pentium information line at 1-800-403-DELL. Dell will provide updated Pentium processors to any customer who requests a replacement. When you call, you will need to provide your serial number. If you have a Pentium system from another manufacturer, contact the manufacturer about their current replacement policy, or contact the chip manufacturer, Intel Corporation, at 1-800-628-8686. For additional information please refer to PennInfo (keyword "pentium"). - Don Montabana, CRC

Q: I'm having problems using documents created in Word 6.0 (Mac) in earlier versions of Word, such as 4.0, 5.0, and 5.1. I saved the documents properly with the Microsoft converters via the Save As... command, but the formatting gets messed up. What's the problem?

A: Microsoft has announced that bugs in Word 6.0 (Mac) will be fixed in an upcoming Word 6.0a maintenance release. Your problems, however, are most likely the result of a combination of "features" and technical differences inherent in Word 6.0. Word 6.0 stores and formats fonts, as well as many formatting elements differently than do earlier versions of Word. These differences can cause odd spacing, gaps, and size and style oddities when documents are converted from Word 6.0 to another format. One of the features of Word 6.0 is the ability to map fonts during a conversion. The font substitution feature is accessed via the Compatibility Options dialog box under the Tools Options... menu choice. The compatibility options also let you preformat documents for maximum compatibility before conversion. Making these changes, however, is not for the novice nor for the faint of heart. It also may not completely solve your problem.

For a detailed discussion of the problem, and additional suggestions for what to do about it, see the online help topic, "Converting Between Microsoft Word 6.0 and Microsoft Word for the Apple Macintosh Versions 4.0 and 5.x." and chapter six in the Quick Results manual, "Switching From A Previous Version of Word." - Joseph R. Harris, Jr., CRC

Q: I loaded Vi-Spy for use with both DOS and Microsoft Windows, but now when I run Windows I get the message "RVS must be loaded from DOS." What's wrong?

A: This message indicates that Windows is loading before Vi-Spy, and its components finish loading correctly. To fix the problem, edit your AUTOEXEC.BAT file to change the order in which Vi-Spy and Windows load.

If your are using DOS version 5.0 or higher, you can edit your AUTOEXEC.BAT file using the DOS built-in editor, EDIT. If you are using a version of DOS, you can use the editor that is included in the Vi-Spy package (type vsmenu to access the menu containing the editor). Your AUTOEXEC.BAT file currently looks something like the sample below:

@echo off
win        (line that loads windows)
cd \vispy  
autovs numberofdays=1 vi-spy /q
rvs        (this line and the one above load Vi-Spy) 
To make Vi-Spy and its components work correctly under Windows, move the line that loads Windows (win) to a position below the lines that load Vi-Spy. After you edit your AUTOEXEC.BAT file, it should like the sample below:
@echo off
cd \vispy
autovs numberofdays=1 vi-spy /q

You need to restart your computer for the change to take effect. - Caroline Ferguson, CRC

November 1994

Q: My FileMaker Pro 2.0 database is getting slower and slower. Is there anything that I can do?

A: There are several possible solutions. One of the quickest (and least expensive) is to select Save A Copy As from the File menu and save a compressed copy of your file. This will make the database file both smaller and faster. Reducing the number of fonts, patterns, and colors may also help, since they tend to slow down FileMaker Pro. A more expensive solution was recently introduced by Claris - FileMaker Pro Server, which can double the speed of the database. - John Mulhern, III, CRC

Q: Using FileMaker Pro database software, I formatted a field as radio buttons. This is great because only one value can be selected at a time. But is there a way to deselect a value if I mistakenly click on a radio button - so that no value is selected?

A: Yes. Holding down the shift key while you click a radio button will remove the selection and leave the field blank. - Kristin Nelson, CRC

Q: Can I open multiple Telnet sessions to the same host using MicroPhone, the MicroPhone Telnet Tool, and an Ethernet connected Macintosh?

A: You can if you create two separate settings documents to the same host machine. To do so, first configure MicroPhone for the host you want to access in your Telnet sessions. Save these settings once using the Save Settings As option from the File menu, then save the settings a second time using a different name (e.g., to connect to, you could name the first settings document "POBOX" and second one as "POBOX2"). Now open both sessions by successively double-clicking on the icons you created for the two settings documents. Alternatively, you could open the second settings document using the Open Settings option from the File menu while you have the first session open. - Kristin Nelson, CRC

October 1994

All Q &A's this month were written by Caroline Ferguson

Q: I have a 3.5" floppy disk with a broken disk shutter. Is there any way to get the information off the disk?

A: If the damaged disk shutter hasn't damaged the data area of the disk, you should be able to retrieve your information. First, don't put the damaged disk into your disk drive; if you do, the broken shutter may get stuck in the drive or damage the disk drive heads, either of which would mean an expensive repair.

To remove the broken shutter, gently - but firmly - pull the shutter from the disk. Also remove the small spring that moves the shutter back and forth. Since the oils from your fingers can also damage the data, take care not to touch the disk material inside the case .

After the shutter and spring have been removed, gently insert the disk into the disk drive. Immediately copy the files from the disk onto your hard drive. Now remove the disk from the drive and check to make sure that the copied files are intact. If the files are intact, copy them onto floppy disks so that you will have backups in the future.

Doing this type of recovery is a "last resort" operation. It is always better to retrieve files from a backup copy of your floppy disks.

Q: What are the differences between WordPerfect 5.1 and 5.1+?

A: There are several differences, but the most important one for many users is that WordPerfect 5.1+ can retrieve and save documents in WordPerfect 6.0 format. That means that if you want to exchange files with WordPerfect 6.0 users without updating to 6.0, WordPerfect 5.1+ is the answer.

WordPerfect 5.1+ also offers new and more flexible fonts and the capability to fax directly from WordPerfect if you have a fax modem that the program supports. And it includes a version of Screen Extender, a commercial program that allows a limited form of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) from WordPerfect's editing screen.

Q: I live outside of Philadelphia. My area code has changed to 610, which means that I now have to dial area code 215 to use PennNet. Are these toll calls?

A: It depends. Bell Atlantic created the 610 area code because they were literally running out of telephone numbers for the cellular telephones, pagers, and fax machines in the area. The new area code was created only to make more numbers available for telecommunications.

According to Bell Atlantic, if your call to PennNet wasn't a toll call before the advent of the 610 area code, it still isn't. The 610 area code has been in use since last year. You can use it now if you wish, but after January 1, 1995, you must use the correct area code or your call will not go through.

Q: When I installed Microsoft Windows 3.1, I put some silly stuff in the registration dialog box where you type in your name and company information. Is there any way to change this without reinstalling Windows?

A: Yes! First start Windows 3.1. From the Program Manager select Run... from the File menu. Type setup /f in the Command Line text box and then click OK. You can now change your registration information.

After you have corrected the registration information, press the enter key several times until the Windows Setup program asks you to insert a disk. At this point click Exit Setup. At the Quit Windows prompt click Yes to shut down Windows. To make sure the information has been corrected, go back into Windows and select About Program Manager... from the Help menu.

Q: I have a CD-ROM player and I also use Vi-Spy. Vi-Spy checks the CD-ROM drive at startup and complains if there isn't a CD-ROM disk in the drive. Can I stop it from doing this?

A: Yes. To prevent Vi-Spy from checking the CD-ROM drive at startup, you need to add a "switch" to the Vi-Spy line (the line beginning AUTOVS) in the AUTOEXEC.BAT. If your only hard drive is C:, the switch you would use is: AUTOVS NUMBEROFDAYS=1 VI-SPY /DL=C /Q If you have several hard drives, for instance C: and D:, then you would use a switch like this: AUTOVS NUMBEROFDAYS=1 VI-SPY /DL=CD /Q

Note that the "/DL" part of the examples show the "drive local" switch. It tells Vi-Spy which hard drives to check when you start up your computer. Be careful if you have more than one hard drive - be sure to add its letter, without spaces or colons, to the /DL switch.

CAROLINE FERGUSON is Front Desk Coordinator for the Computing Resource Center.

September 1994

Q: I just received an e-mail message in Elm with five names listed in the cc: field. Is it possible to reply to the sender and to the people who received carbon copies?

A: The group (g) reply command is what you're looking for. Just type g at the command prompt - Elm will send copies of your response to all of the people listed in the carbon copy (cc:) field in addition to the original sender of the message. - Sheila Emerson, CRC

Q: I can't leave my Powerbook idle for more than a few minutes without it falling asleep. Why is it so tired?

A: PowerBooks are usually set to conserve battery power and go into 'sleep' mode if the machine is idle for a relatively short period of time. If you have the PowerBook Control Panel 7.2 (or a third party alternative), you can adjust your PowerBook's behavior. Just select Control Panels from the pull-down Apple Menu and then double-click on the PowerBook Control Panel. Move the Battery Conservation slider toward Maximum Performance. Now your machine won't fall asleep as often, but it will use up the battery faster. - Pattie Devlin, CRC

Q: I've just started using WordPerfect 6.0a for Windows. I want to insert an old document into one that I just created, but the Retrive command, which I used in WordPerfect 5.1, is gone. Help!

A: Easy. WordPerfect 6.0a for Windows no longer has the Retrieve command available from the pop-up File Menu. To insert a file in your 6.0a document, just select File from the Insert menu. - Caroline Ferguson, CRC

Q: I'm getting tired of typing long e-mail address. Isn't there an easier way?

A: Usually. Are most of your correspondents on the same mail machine as yourself? If so, just type the username (e.g., jones). If they use another mail machine at Penn, drop the and type username@mailmachine (e.g., If your correspondent is not at Penn you must type the full address (or learn to use aliases). Note: All-in-1 users must, of course, still append @IN when sending mail to anyone not using the same mail machine that they are using. - Kristin Nelson, CRC