1. Outlook vs. Outlook Express

Many new PC's come with Microsoft's Outlook Express as the default e-mail program so many people start using it because it is there and it does the basic e-mail functions. But when you add Microsoft Office, as many do, for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, it asks you if you want to add Outlook. One of the readers of this newsletter asked me whether they should use Outlook or Outlook Express. In the article on the web site that I wrote in response, I suggested four reasons to use Outlook instead of Outlook Express: 1) Outlook has a contact database, task list and calendar in addition to the e-mail functionality, 2) Outlook synchronizes better with handheld computers, 3) Outlook's e-mail features are more robust, and 4) Outlook interfaces better with other applications. If you have Outlook and are wondering if you should use it instead of Outlook Express, read through the article on the web site for more information.

2. Selecting the Right Chart on Presentation Slides

A chart - a graph or table - is a great way to represent data on a presentation slide. The question becomes what type of graph should you use to represent the data you have. If you have time-sequenced data, you should use a column or line graph for one to three data series and an area or line graph for four or more data series. For non-time-sequenced data, a pie graph is good for showing a single data series related to each other, a bar or column graph works well for showing a few data series and a table works well for showing a larger number of data series. When constructing a graph, make sure that the colors have high contrast and you use the graph features such as legends and titles to clearly indicate the message of the graph. Tables need to be big enough to be clearly read. Sometimes you will need to break up a graph or table into smaller elements if it is too complex. To highlight certain elements of the graph or table you can use boxes, arrows or building effects. There is more information on selecting charts for your presentation slides in an article on the web site.

3. Useful Resource - Satisfaction Ratings of PC's and Printers

When you are selecting a new piece of computer equipment, it is important to know what other buyers have experienced with some of the brands you are considering. Each year, PC Magazine polls users of different brands of equipment to see how reliable their purchases have been and how satisfied they are. I have relied on this survey many times when purchasing new computer equipment, including the latest printer I bought. I found out that the previous printer brand I owned was at the low end of the scale - no wonder I had problems with it! This year's survey is online at: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,364585,00.asp