Magazine article Computers in Libraries

If You See It and Want It, How Do You Get It?: Help for Hunters on the Internet

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

If You See It and Want It, How Do You Get It?: Help for Hunters on the Internet

Article excerpt

One of the most frustrating aspects of being new on the Internet is seeing terrific stuff on the screen and not knowing how to "get it." New hunters on the Net spy tasty looking game but rarely have the skills to capture their quarry. Most of what has been written focuses on navigating and searching--the hunt, not the capture. Ask an expert (someone who's been on a week longer than you) how to retrieve that document, and you get a variety of suggestions--all beginning with the word "just," as in "just log it to a file," "just mail it", "just download it." A word of warning: beware instructions beginning with the word "just!"

While each suggestion is valid, all require some knowledge of software and hardware. The methods form a continuum of skill required, from simply locating a key on the keyboard, to a basic understanding of your computer's operating system, communication software, and word processor. Those who preface directions with the word "just" underestimate what you need to know.

Before focusing on getting a document, consider two things: its size and what you will do with it. You could keep a printed copy in a file, save an electronic copy on your hard drive, hand it on paper to a colleague, e-mail it to a friend, quote sections in a report, print it, and give it to the director. Your quarry could be a single screen, a short article, a few sections of a large file, or the entire proposed 1995 federal budget.

Since this article is directed at beginners, let's set some limits. We'll deal with gophers, the most common and usable interface on the Internet, and take examples from Internet Gopher Information Client 2.0 as used on the University of Minnesota, NYSERNET, or Infoslug gophers. We'll assume dial in Internet access from a PC using Procomm Plus communications software and a word processor, like WordPerfect, loaded on your computer. The principles will carry over to other software, but the specific procedures will differ.

Print Screen--A Quick and Easy Capture

The simplest way to put what's on the screen on paper is to Print Screen. For a short document, sections of a longer one, or handing brief information to a patron waiting at the desk, this is simple and appropriate. What you get is a replica of your screen, including junk lines like the Procomm status line and gopher menu prompts.


*Display the text on the screen.

*Turn the printer on and make sure it is online (ready to print).

*Press Can't find the key? Look at the top of your keyboard to the right of the function keys. On very old keyboards, it may be somewhere else; you may even have to press ; that is, hold down the key and press .


It's a quick, easy, and immediate printout that requires little knowledge.


Each screen must be printed separately. Output will include those screen prompts and won't have proper page breaks. In other words, you will have bagged your quarry, but it won't look very appetizing.

Online Printing-Slow and Easy Capture

One notch up on the skill continuum is printing while online. Online printing sends everything that appears on the screen to the printer at the same time again, including the gopher menu prompts and the Procomm status line. The job is done by setting Procomm to print and scrolling through the document.


*Turn the printer on and make sure it's online.

*Press , hold down the < alt > key and press L. The Procomm status line at the bottom of the screen now says, "Print on."

*Display the document on the screen.

*Scroll through the gopher document pressing the <+> key or .

*Press to turn the printing off when you are done.


There's no need to press again and again.


Scrolling through the document while online is slow and doesn't give you a clean copy. …

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