Dear Judi & Frank, I called Samsung, ATI, Western Digital and every other maker of monitors and graphics display cards I can find. I spoke time and again to our software maker. I can't get anywhere.
We're a sound studio. We switched to a digital editing system because it's supposed to be quicker, more accurate and keep the sound from degrading no matter how many times we re-edit material.The editing program requires Windows 3.0. One window graphs different tracks on the sound tape. Another window graphs the sounds on each track. And so forth.
It's fine except when I try to see multiple windows at a time. It's not that I can't read what's onscreen, but part of each window screen is cut off. Instead of seeing a whole graph, I just see a corner of it.
All the vendors try to sell me a bigger monitor, but my instincts tell me that's wrong.
- Sounding Off in Milwaukee
Dear S.O.M., You're right. Buying a bigger monitor would only enlarge what you already see, not show what's hidden. You need a way to force each window to display all the information that shows before you switch to multiple windows.
First, be sure you are using the Windows display option called TILING. The alternative, CASCADING, overlaps windows over one another, obscuring part of what's beneath. TILING puts each window next to the other like tiles on a floor.
If that doesn't solve the problem, our first guess is that the program you're using isn't properly written. If so, it's the responsibility of the software company that put in the bug to take it out or return your money.
There are monitor and graphics card combinations that can be made to show more than a standard picture onscreen. Some can show two full pages of type at a time instead of the usual less-than-a-page.
They're quite expensive and more than a little finicky. Generally, they work well with only a few of the most widely sold programs (the names of which are usually listed on the graphics card's box). We'd be surprised if this program is among those listed.
Dear Frank & Judi, I read your recent article about monitors and the circuit boards that make them work. I want to switch right away to VGA, but I can't afford both a new monitor and a new circuit card.
Do I need both to get VGA? If I buy just the monitor, can it run on my Tandy 286 computer's old CGA card? Would I be able to run programs that call for VGA? - Color-bound in Indiana
Dear C.B., Yes. Maybe. No.
Yes, your computer needs both a VGA monitor and a VGA card to show sharper resolution and more colors onscreen.
Maybe you can run a VGA monitor on your CGA card. We've done it by plugging an adapter into the VGA card's 15-pin outlet to convert it to the CGA system's 9-pin structure.
Trouble is, we can get it to work on barely half the monitors and cards we test. If your computer has only Tandy equipment inside and out, a Tandy dealer should be able to say if it'll work for you.
Otherwise, we advise buying it only if you can test it first or get your money back if it doesn't work.
No, you can't run programs that require VGA unless you have a VGA card. If you keep the old CGA card and get a VGA monitor running on it, you'll still have just a CGA system. You'll still get the lower CGA resolution and CGA color palette.
But while many games look a lot better in VGA, we haven't found a program that requires VGA.
Many VGA circuit cards can run CGA, EGA or VGA monitors. (EGA lies between CGA and VGA in resolution and color palette.) In fact, many VGA cards have both CGA 9-pin and VGA 15-pin outlets.
Neither of the two under-$100 VGA cards we like, from ATI and Boca, has the double connector. ATI's higher-priced cards do; we know because we put them in some of our machines.
Dear Judi and Frank, We're writers. Our savings just crossed $4,000, so that's what we can spend for a complete computer setup.
A DAK mail-order catalog shows a 386SX computer with VGA monitor, 80M hard drive, fax card, modem and a slew of programs for $2,450. Is that a good price? We can't afford a laser printer. What do you recommend? We need WordPerfect to `talk' to client's offices and exchange data via modem. Is there a better word processing program for writers? What do you use? - San Diego Scribblers
Dear Scribblers, If you're planning mostly to word process, DAK's package sounds plenty powerful and well-priced. These days, buying mail order from dealers with good refund policies is very safe.
Now that WordPerfect 5.1 fixed its menu interface and onscreen help system, it's a good program. But it is so loaded with features, it may be overkill for you. If you write fiction, a midpriced program like Professional Write probably has all the features you'll ever need.
Our favorite is still Word (version 5.0, not 5.5). You probably don't need Word for Windows' extra features.
We write in Word and use a program called Software Bridge to convert files into WordPerfect for one client. Many computer stores carry it. With it, you don't need to own WordPerfect to send clients WordPerfect-compatible files.
For under $1,000, you can buy a Canon or Panasonic laser printer.
We strongly recommend it. Manuscripts look much more professional - and you get the option of being able to desktop publish. We don't know a writer who hasn't eventually wanted to do it.