Soft carriage returns make printing tough HELP LINE


Q: I am using Windows 3.1 on a PC clone with an Intel Pentium 166 MHz chip and 32 megabytes of RAM. When I print a line (in Notepad, for example), the hard copy displays part of the word at the end of the line and continues the word on the next line. This occurs on both my printers, an Epson LQ-1000 dot matrix and Brother HL-630 laser. Also, this does not occur using the same file when I use a DOS application such as First Choice. To me, the facts indicate that the printers are good, the cables are good and the port hardware is OK.

A: You're being vexed by something called soft carriage returns, a set of invisible characters that software inserts into files to make them fit into a display window of a given width. Your DOS software First Choice formats the text according to its own margin settings, while the free-form Windows Notepad just lets text run on.

You can fix it by using the Word Wrap command in Notepad or else using some other software to do the printing.

If you load it into the Windows Write software supplied with Windows 3.1 or many other word processors, such as Microsoft Word and Lotus WordPro, you can set the display to show these breaks.

Q. I have both an IBM and a Macintosh computer. I recently purchased an HP DeskJet 500 for the IBM. Is there any way I could get that to work on the Macintosh as well?

A: That particular printer is one of this writer's all-time favorites because it boasts connections for two parallel cables rather than the standard one connection. I hook one to my Mac and the other to my PC.

You will need to get a Mac-style printer cable, but you can then hook the Macintosh into the parallel port on the bottom of the HP and the PC into the one at the back.

But to make it work on the Apple side you also will need some Macintosh driver software, which also is sold in stores. The two best software packages for this are Power Print and MacPrint.

Q: I just bought a new Dell Dimension PC and I now have to enter a password before being able to go to the Internet. Why, in the privacy of my own home, must I enter a password on my own personal computer?

A: While the first law of the Internet may be that information wants to be free, the second law certainly is that logging on to the Internet is never free.

You need to think of it as you think about your telephone, where the password takes the form of 312-222-3232. Without that number your home telephone wouldn't be any more of an option than is your home PC without a password.

You can set your computer so it doesn't ask you for a password, but then the machine will automatically send it each time you log on. That's not what you want to hear, but that's the way it is.

Contact Jim Coates via e-mail at

Pub Date: 5/11/98

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