BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 1998

  

 

BOOT CAMP 033

FAXING FROM YOUR PC PART 2

Last week we showed how almost any Windows 95 PC could be turned into a fax machine. The trouble is a basic PC-fax set up has one or two shortcomings, compared with a stand-alone fax machine. Firstly you can only send documents or images created on the PC, and second, you will have to leave the machine switched on, if you want to receive incoming faxes around the clock. This week we'll look at ways around those little difficulties and how to extend your PC's faxing abilities. Before you begin make sure you have Microsoft Fax installed, set up and working on your Windows 95 PC, as outlined in part one.

The first thing you will want to do is personalise your fax cover pages or letters, adding your signature or a company logo. It's really easy, and no, you won't need a scanner. Give a friend or colleague a clean copy of your logo or graphic and ask them to fax it to you. If possible enlarge the logo on a photocopier and it's a good idea to do a fairly big signature with a thick pen or marker; ordinary handwriting may not come through clearly. Complicated logos may not fare well either, simple designs work best, and small outlines are preferable to large solid patterns, as they will slow your outgoing faxes. When you have the fax on your monitor take a screen grab of the page by pressing Print Screen on the keyboard. Open the Paint program (in the Accessories folder) and edit the image. Trim off any rough edges and clean it up using the paint brushes and eraser tools.

When you're happy with it click on the Select tool (dotted box), drag an outline box around the logo or signature and select Copy from the Edit menu. Now open the Cover Page Editor, which can be found in Accessories, under Fax. You can either create the cover page from scratch, using the ready-made elements on the Insert menu, or modify an existing template. In none are shown on the file menu, try looking in the Windows folder. You can drop your graphic in anywhere on the layout by clicking on Paste on the Edit menu. It can be moved around, and if necessary re-sized, using the sizing boxes.

If you have a scanner or access to one, then so much the better. The fax-it-to-yourself method is only really suitable for simple graphics; a scanner will be able to pick up fine detail or shade variations in a coloured company logo. In any event a scanner, even a budget model, is a very useful thing to have, especially if you are going to do a lot of faxing from your PC. It means you will be able to send hand-written documents, drawings, even pictures, just like a regular fax machine, and that's quite apart from all of the other things a scanner can do! Quite a few scanners come bundled with dedicated faxing software or utilities, so that once an image has been captured it automatically opens Microsoft Fax, or your default fax program. If not you'll have to save the document as an image file and select it manually, when you start the Fax Wizard.

Microsoft Fax can be set to auto-answer incoming calls, just like a desktop fax, but what happens when the PC is switched off? A lot depends on the computer's power management facilities, many recent models will respond to a 'wake up' call from the modem whilst the PC is in the Suspend mode. It's not always obvious if a PC is so equipped, in that case open Control Panel and click on the Power Icon. If your PC supports these features you should see a button marked Advanced on the Power tab, click on it and put a tick in the check box marked 'Wake up the computer when the phone rings'.

It's also worth checking the PC's BIOS settings. This can normally be accessed immediately after the computer is switched-on. A message saying something like 'To Enter Set up Press Delete', (or possibly a combination of keys), after which the Set Up screen will appear. Look for a menu option called Power Setting or Management. If the PC supports the Suspend mode there could be an option to enable the wake-up call from the modem. If the computer goes into suspend mode, but doesn't wake up when the phone rings, check the REN (see Jargon Filter) numbers of all of the devices connected to your telephone line. If the REN exceeds 4 this could be preventing the modem from picking up the call.

Windows 95 faxing utilities is a very good starting point but it is well worth investigating any bundled software that came with your PC or modem. A lot of these programs have additional features, including fax viewers, integrated telephone, smart phonebooks and schedulers. 

Finally, some good news if you need to send a lot of faxes abroad and want to avoid running up large international phone bills. Several companies now offer a free or low cost fax forwarding service over the Internet. You pay only normal on-line and subscription charges. Find out more from Connect International and the Phone Company's web sites at:

www.tpc.int/tpc_home.html

http://www.i4l.com/fax/index.htm

 

JARGON FILTER

BIOS

Basic Input Output System, a set of instructions that tells your PC what it is connected to, and how to communicate with devices like hard disc drive and memory chips

REN

Ringer Equivalence Number -- all devices (modems, fax machines, answering machines etc) that can be connected to the public switched telephone network (PTSN) are required to have a REN number. This determines how many other devices can be connected to the same line. Most phone lines can support a REN of 4. If it is any higher some devices may not function correctly

STANDBY

PCs with motherboards that support the Standby function, switch to a low power mode when the standby function is engaged. A variety of actions, including mouse clicks, key presses, or signals from the modem wakes up the PC

 

TOP TIP

When you make changes to your system you will often be asked to load the Windows 95 CD-ROM but can you find it? It's a well-known fact that CD-ROMS grow legs at night and go walkabout. Rather that play hunt the disc why not copy the essential files on your hard disc? They're contained in a folder called Win95. It's not as large as you might think, only around 40Mb on early versions, rising to 125Mb on the later releases, which is small relatively beer on a multi gigabyte hard disc drive. Open Windows Explorer and create a new folder in the C: drive called Win95. Highlight the Win95 folder on the CD-ROM and click on Copy on the Edit menu, then open the empty Win95 in drive C: and click Paste on the Edit menu and the files will be copied across. The next time your PC asks you to insert the Windows 95 CD-ROM simply change the drive path from D:\Win95 to C:\Win95. 

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