Originally created 09/06/98

Computer tutor: Expert answers questions



Question: I am looking for software products that will give me the capability of adding limited animation and sound to graphics and photos that would be imported. I would also like to be able to add them to e-mail as an attachment that the recipient would be able to read and activate.

I am not in business to do this; I would just like to do it for fun. I know there are a lot of high-end products that will do this and there are a lot of low-end products.

The low end seems to be very limited. The high end is way overboard in price and goes way beyond what I would like to do. If you could send me on the right track ...

Nicholas Sartori
joseph.sartori@snet.net

Answer: You're asking for a lot from an animation product, which probably accounts for why you're having trouble finding one to suit you.

When I'm looking for a powerful product at an affordable price, I head straight for the shareware archives on the Internet.

In case you're unfamiliar with the term, shareware is software that is distributed free of charge to people who want to give it a test drive before buying. Because shareware authors don't have the usual marketing, packaging and distribution costs, they typically offer their programs at lower prices than comparable shrink-wrapped products found on store shelves.

Try www.shareware.com or www.jumbo.com and do searches on "animation" or "animate."

Products that create the animated GIF images typically found on Web pages are fairly common and inexpensive. But programs to create stand-alone animations that can be sent via e-mail are more complex. If you're working on the Windows platform, look for a product that creates animations that can be displayed with Microsoft's MediaPlayer.

Question: I am a college student looking to spend about $1,500 for a computer. I will be using my computer for Web design (using FrontPage, Adobe Exchange and Photoshop), the Internet and the entire MS Office. I was wondering where I should buy a computer? Should I buy one from a retail store or order one from a manufacturer (like Dell). I understand ordering one may cost extra, but I am willing to spend an extra $200 if it is worth it.

Also, any suggestions on how many megahertz I should have? Gigabytes? Zip drive? I would greatly appreciate any suggestion. Thank you for your help.

Sachin J. Bhatt
sach26@juno.com

Answer: Where you buy your computer doesn't matter nearly as much as how well that seller will respond if something doesn't work right.

For that reason, many computer newcomers lean in the direction of local retailers. That way, if there's a breakdown, they can put the PC in the car and drive right over to see about getting it fixed. But many mail-order sellers offer good technical support as well, so be sure to check everyone's warranty and support policies when shopping.

From your description, you'll be using some pretty heavy-duty applications. I'd recommend you buy the fastest computer and the most RAM you can afford. Skimping on hard-drive space is a tough compromise if you're doing a lot of graphics. But acres of hard-drive space won't be much help if the PC is unbearably slow.

Question: I run Windows 95 and find I have a lot of .CHK files in my root (C:) directory when I look at it in DOS. I think there are about 150 of them. They have file names like FILE0013.CHK and FILE00AE.CHK.

Should I delete them? What are they?

Leslie Starr
lstarr@snet.net

Answer: Files with the .CHK file extension typically contain lost allocation units -- in other words, stray data -- that has been recovered from the hard drive by the Check Disk (CHKDSK) file utility.

If you like, you can take a peek in those files with any standard word processing program (WordPad should do the trick) to see if there's any data you might like to keep.

Odds are it's just stray disk junk. Nuke it.