Q: I have an art-type program on my PC that only saves my work in a very obscure format that is not exportable. I want to be able to select my work on-screen and save it in a recognizable format so that I can work on these files in other art programs and then e-mail them or upload them to the Web.
With my Mac, I use the nifty shareware utility Flash-it to select and capture screen images as PICT files, which can easily be converted into common formats such as jpg, gif, bmp, etc. I haven't been able to find a way to do this on my Pentium. Any ideas for me?
A: There are dozens of shareware offerings to convert graphics files into various formats and a goodly number of screen capture programs as well. My favorite by far is LView Pro which can be had along with dozens of others at www.software.com.
In this writer's opinion, however, your best bet by far is to plop down $30 for a professional image format changing program called PhotoVue Plus at www.imagedisk.com or in stores as a shrink-wrapped box product by ImageDisk Inc.
To get screen captures into PhotoVue, you just set up the screen the way you want and then press the Print Screen button to capture the entire display. Alt + Print Screen captures just the active window. You then call up PhotoVue and use the paste command to drop the image into the software and save it in any one of dozens of formats.
PhotoVue is loaded with the stuff you want, including the ability to resize images, crop them, make contact sheets of multiple images, run slide shows and convert screen captures to any format you please. Photovue also displays movie files and plays various sounds and animations. It has become my favorite omnibus multimedia choice.
Q: Although I usually enjoy your columns, I feel that you have fallen short in your description of the Internet.
I understand that when I place a long-distance call, the local telephone company connects to a long-distance company that owns satellites, fiber, microwaves and such, and they connect back to a local telephone company at the other end. Each end company and the long-distance company in the middle, get paid. How is this handled when I send an e-mail or access a Web site?
A. I fear your question is particularly dangerous because nothing gets much more complicated than Internet plumbing. Nevertheless here goes an expanded Internet primer:
Your Internet Service Provider (ISP), whether it is CompuServe or America Online, sells you access to the so-called Internet backbone.
This network of high-speed communications lines called backbone has grown exponentially over the past few years as telephone companies and other enterprises rush to capitalize on the Internet.
In the wake of its recent mergers with America Online and WorldCom, your CompuServe connection moves through one of the pioneering parts of the Internet's backbone, MFS net, which, until it was purchased by WorldCom, was known as UUNET (Unix to Unix Network). WorldCom will control 50 percent of the entire backbone after its mergers are complete, leaving such other giants at Sprint, AGIS, CWIX and vBNS with the rest of the dedicated fiber-optic and other types of connections known as the backbone.
You call in to CompuServe on the regular Bell System phone lines, and it is CompuServe that dispatches the e-mail onto the backbone and also pays for it.
Other players, such as AOL or any one of thousands of other ISPs, connect their customers to the backbone by way of WorldCom and the rest of the fiber-optic oligarchy.
Contact Jim Coates via e-mail at jcoateribune.com.
Pub Date: 5/04/98