by Steve Lopez

This week we'll look at a few quick fixes and observations on manning a tech line.

First, I was going to apologize for my recent problems with laryngitis but I found that having a deep(er) raspy voice actually worked to my advantage. I spent a couple of days talking like the guy in the movie Sling Blade, and I'm here to tell you that when you say in that voice: "No! Left-click!", the person on the other end of the phone can't left-click fast enough. Nobody argued, nobody swore at me, nobody ranted about the manual -- in short, I need to figure out how to talk like that all the time (minus the sore throat).

On to some serious matters: I've discovered that about half of the calls to ChessBase USA's tech line aren't really problems with our programs. Most of these calls are due to a user's unfamiliarity with basic Windows concepts (files, folders, how to copy a file, how to rename a file, how to create a folder, etc.). If you're unsure about this kind of stuff, do yourself a favor and get yourself a Windows for Dummies or Complete Idiots Guide to Windows book for whatever flavor of Windows you're running. The books are well-written, entertaining, and a fast read (I can usually knock one off in a couple of hours). After you've read one, you'll find that you're much more comfortable with your computer, more self-reliant, and less afraid of screwing something up. Personal preference note: I've found that the Complete Idiot's Guides have gotten a lot better in the last couple of years and I prefer these to the Dummies books these days. This may also be due to the fact that most of the time when I post to Usenet, somebody calls me an "idiot" (this seems to be standard Internet practice for replying to a post one disagrees with); perhaps I'm become comfortable with the appellation.

I've noticed two recurring problems with Fritz5.32 that we'll address here. The first is that some folks can't get the music to play in Fritz5.32 or the other two 32-bit chess programs. We're still tracking that one down and I'll let you know in a future issue what we find out. Early indications are that it's a memory management problem.

The second problem is that you can't use the new "general" opening book [general.ctg] from the CD and the English Talk feature at the same time. This is simply because they're on two different CDs. To use them both simutaneously, you'll need to put the general opening book on your hard drive. Just load the general.ctg file (by using the "Load book" command in the Book menu), hit [F11] to open the game tree, and use select "Copy tree to disk" from the Book menu. The program will open a box allowing you to select a folder into which to copy the general book. Once the book is copied, the program automatically switches to that book and will "remember" its location when you exit the program. Be sure you have enough disk space before copying the book to your hard drive -- it takes about 100 megs of drive space.

The other problems we're seeing have been addressed in previous issues of Electronic T-Notes, so here's a reminder of where to find them:

November 8, 1998
1) "No opening book" loaded message
2) Fritz won't refuel
3) Fritz won't access a ChessBase database
4) Fritz won't talk during a game
5) Fritz isn't playing the best move in the position

For those folks experiencing "mystery crashes" with Fritz, Junior, and Nimzo (programs locking up or giving fatal error messages), please refer to the ETN issue for November 1, 1998, specifically the section on decreasing your computer's graphics acceleration.

Finally, to my far-flung friends around the globe, Happy Holidays! Enjoy the season and have fun!

Two quick notes about ChessBase USA's schedule

I've noticed a few messages on the answering machine from disappointed weekend callers who are under the impression that the tech line is open on Saturday. As of late October technical support moved to a Monday through Friday schedule, from 11 AM to 6 PM Eastern time. The message you receive on the answering machine does explain this. Sorry about any inconvenience; please make a note of the change.

ChessBase USA's 1998 holiday schedule:

We will be closed on Thursday, Dec. 24th and Friday, Dec. 25th. We will also be closed on Friday, Jan. 1st.

You can e-mail me with your comments, suggestions, and analysis for Electronic T-Notes. If you love gambits, stop by the Chess Kamikaze Home Page and the Yahoo Chess Kamikazes Club.