MadMod Computing The MadMod Computing Newsletter

Vol. 2001c

Welcome to the third issue of The MadMod Computing Newsletter.   We hope that you enjoy the features of each issue and learn some computing skills along the way.

First, a reminder to make backups of your important files, and to use Scandisk and Disk Defragmenter -- at least monthly.

Featured in This Issue
1.     Using Drop Caps in Microsoft Word
2.     Find Information With a Web Search Engine
3.     Scientific American News Briefs (website)

1.    Using Drop Caps in Microsoft Word
After writing a paragraph in a document, try selecting the very first letter of the paragraph.  Next select "Drop Cap" under the "Format" menu.  I suggest that within the dialogue box that you change the font to something such as Garamond, choose the letter to have text to the right and below, and choose two lines to drop the cap.  Also choose the distance of the drop cap from the text to be 0.1".  Next select the letter by blocking the box with the mouse and electing the bold version of the font.  Last put the cursor where you wish to continue your typing.  That's all there is to it!.  Experiment and have fun.

2.    Find Information With a Web Search Engine
Web Search engines such as AltaVista, HotBot and Google work basically the same with simple searches but their results differ with the same starting information because they each store and sort information differently.  Try to get used to at least two different search engines.  With the same information such as "Abe Lincoln's home" see what comes up. (Visit the Internet site and see the Search Portal section for various search engines to try out.)

I use quotation marks to specify phrases, but then they tend to be very limiting.  Not using quotes with phrases causes many results with each separate word.  Short generic words with "and", "or", such as purple and butterflies work well.  Searching for information on tomato soup that contains celery but not beans requires syntax such as "tomato soup"+celery-beans .

However, the best of intentions may get badly subverted during a search.  For example, a search for an audible meow of a cat with "cat's meow" is likely to result in a number of unrelated commercial sites instead!  This happens because the search engines tend to find first those sources that have received heavy web traffic.  A better choice would have been wav:"cat meow" .  Test jpg:"American Flag" and see what you get.

One search engine that is fun to use is the search engine Ask Jeeves.  This one allows entire questions with quotes such as "Why is the sky blue?"   Ask Jeeves tends to work better with questions containing the following: why, how, where, what, when, etc.  Short specific questions work best such as "What is octane?"

3.    Scientific American News Briefs (website)
Keeping up in any specialized field of interest is difficult with the flood of information available on the Internet. An easy way to daily keep on top of important science news is made simple with a visit Scientific American News Briefs at the Internet site where three or four links appear to the accompanying stories.  Each write-up gives a few paragraphs and occasional pictures to describe the latest happenings in science.

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E-mail to the editor: David Mawdsley

Copyright © 2001, The MadMod Computing Newsletter