Minutes of the January Meeting

By James Weber, Secretary, Tampa PC Users Group

Mary Sheridan started the Window SIG at 6:05 PM. The meeting began with a discussion of Y2K and its possible effects on data access. Many group members are aware that older versions of DOS and Windows, as well as certain motherboards, will not work properly after the year 2000. Everyone present seemed to have some type of solution for their own needs, but not everyone was aware that having a Y2K compliant operating system does not make your data safe. Many programs use two digit time stamps that are unaffected by the O.S. This means your database program could essentially disappear before your eyes. Mary shared a story with us about a power plant that shut down during a Y2K test because a pollution sensor in a smokestack was not compliant. We were assured that TECO is aware of similar problems, and they are addressing them now.

The latest beta version of Microsoft’s Office 2000 is out, and there are already problems. Steve Singer passed along his experience with it when his Peach Tree accounting and UPS tracking software quit functioning after installing Office 2000. Apparently the ODBC.DRV file is being rewritten in such a manner that older programs can no longer recognize it. Steve said that uninstalling Office 2000 did not cure the problem. Thanks, Bill!

One of our members was having a problem with his 56K modem. Apparently his phone line will ring back to his house when he disconnects his modem. The problem does not happen all the time, only during certain types of connections.

Merle started the general meeting at 6:30 PM. An attendance sheet was passed out along with sign up sheets for the SIGs. Four people present raised their hands when asked if there was still an interest in starting a Linux SIG, and there are approximately 3 others who were not present who have expressed an interest in the past few months. Jenny pitched the Genealogy SIG.

Cheryl Alexander was introduced to the group as the new Membership Coordinator. Among Cheryl’s duties will be making contact with members who have not been attending meetings to see if there is anything we could do to increase participation, as well as contacting old members who have quit the group.

Our guest presenter, Capt. Rob Stebbins, began his presentation at 7:05 PM. Capt. Stebbins created a publishing company in his own home with a combination of his experience as a seaman and a little bit of programming experience. His annual circulation is around six thousand units. Capt. Stubbins claimed his inspiration came after he bought a boat in 1980 and was not able to catch any fish. After a friend's advice, Capt. Stebbins bought a Loran navigation device and still couldn’t catch fish. It was at this point he learned about "secret" spots, or Loran coordinates. Unfortunately, no one ever published a list of coordinates; they were kept secret by the people who discovered them. It was here that Capt. Stebbins decided that there was a market for a published list of GPS and Loran-C coordinates.

The product Capt. Stebbins came up with is a fully searchable and configurable data base of all waterways along America’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as the Gulf Coast, the Great Lakes, interior lakes and rivers, and a good portion of the Caribbean. He demonstrated how to find objects of interest, like fishing holes or wrecks, by either searching by site description or entering GPS or Loran-C coordinates. The Captain says that the thousands of coordinates and the database program only take up about 40 MB of disk space. He uses an HP 890c printer to create his own labels and has two computers running a 2X and a 4X CD burner creating the program disk. His presentation ended at 8:15 PM.

We had our drawing after the presentation. Brian Lance won a copy of Clean Sweep and Ed Snow won a book called Windows 98 Annoyances and a 3-D clip art program called Live Art. Kevan Sheridan won a GPS coordinate book. $42.00 was raised from the door prizes.

We ended at 8:30 PM. u