Bob and Joy
                                      
 
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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Highlights of  2001 Columns    
dog2.gif (4601 bytes) December 2001, Week 4 -- When bad things happen to good hard drives... Who you gonna call? No one in this case. Get in there and install some preventive hardware and software. We call the Sheriff and consider Disk Alert. And the tip of the day is don't forget to defrag your hard drive. This has nothing to do with hand grenades. Internuts: All about healthy bones, from the National Institutes of Health. And watch your diet too. Follow Lewis and Clark as they cross the continent looking for the northwest passage. Rent a cottage in Antigua, or a hundred other places for that matter. Relax with the new Castle Wolfenstein shoot-em-up or Star Trek: Armada II.
December 2001, Week 3 -- Scanning the printed page to try and make sense of what it says. We look at two optical character recognition programs, the market leading OmniPage and the new challenger from abroad, FineReader. Plasma is a nice new low-cost music mixing program from Cakewalk; run endless numbers of loops into your recordings. Internuts: Try the Pink Monkey for classic literature, online textbooks and sample tests. Free language lessons and other courses from "wannalearn." Old movies and TV shows. And one great new cheat site for gamers.
December 2001, Week 2 --  A column devoted to the free or very low cost programs you can find on shareware sites. Catch a herd at ZDnet, milk them at Tucows. We select: BigFix, AutoRunMan, 1clickFormFiller, SureDelete, SnagIt, and drawing with Aaron. Finish up with at the best football game.
December 2001, Week 1 -- It seems impossible but Ulead's Photo Impact is still getting better. This is the one we use for photos most of the time. ACDsee is a good image management program. And just a few words on Windows XP and a reminder to pay attention to the golden rule of computing: Never buy anything with a low serial number. Meanwhile, back at the economy ... most of the numbers may be down, but online sales are rocketing.
November 2001, Week 5 -- ClickBooks is still clicking, and now we have FinePrint as well. Save some paper and time and store things the old-fashioned way. Make your own booklets. Easy pdf (portable document format) files; keep the content and the look of the page. A new combo office machine from Lexmark. Save space and money by printing, scanning and copying with the same unit -- less than $200. More info on Sun's free Star Office office suite plus another freebie office suite.
November 2001, Week 4 -- Just can't seem to find that perfect screen saver? Why not roll your own? Finally find some use for all those pictures of your narcoleptic uncle, your aunt Sadie gushing over her pumpkin pie. Meanwhile ... while you were out there trying to fix the car, 106 million people were shopping online. Sick of pop-up ads? Maybe you just don't have the right attitude. Maybe you should get one of these pop-up blockers. New program lets you burn DVDs in real time. (What else have you got to do?) Internuts: Where to buy all that unclaimed baggage the airlines lost. Give a mortgage payment; collect e-mail from anywhere; check a health site. Games: Lightweight Ninja and Lego Racers.
November 2001, Week 3 --  Free, or nearly free, office software suites that can compete with Microsoft Office. New laser printer from Hewlett Packard for less than $250. A new film scanner from Visioneer and a bit of chit-chat about film scanning in general. Books: An Internet guide for senior citizens. Internuts: The "Why?" files is a site for science education that satisfies both children and adults. Dairy co-op has some good recipes. A look at bad astronomy in the movies and on TV. Fuel economy figures for most cars and trucks.
November 2001, Week 2 --  A new program from 01Communique pretends it's a videophone, and acts like one too. ActionTec breaks into the new super fast 802 wireless transmission technology with a wireless network set for home and small business. Internuts: A new site from Janes (all the world's ships, etc.) covers politics. Take a look at the mad scientists site for kid science. For education there are two great new math and science programs aimed at ages for middle school and up. There aren't many of these. A new book on "Cheap Web Tricks" could spice up your site.
November 2001, Week 1 --  All about spam, and we don't mean canned ham. So many ads, so few delete keys. Can anything be done about it? Sure, but hitting the delete key still works pretty well. All is not hopeless, however. We look at several programs -- some free! -- that actually seem to work at cutting down the bad stuff. Try these and protect your kids and your sanity. And watch out for the hot money offers from Nigeria. Those are really stupid, but somebody must fall for them.
October 2001, Week 4 -- The latest version of Ghost simplifies the use of a classic program for transferring an old computer's contents to a new computer. The corporate version allows one person to update all the computers in a system at once with new software. And while we're transferring an older computer's contents, how about transferring it to a 100-gigabyte hard drive? Nothing faster that moves. Books: The Arts and Crafts Computer has some really interesting ideas for making things with a computer and a color printer. Internuts: How about a private intelligence service for the masses? Private doesn't mean you can't get intelligence reports just like the executives get, it just means it's not a government service; and it's free. Amazon.com lets you read selections from 25,000 books. Fatfree.com has nearly 5,000 vegetarian recipes. Decode the cryptic comments on lab tests. Funology has jokes, odd facts and magic tricks for kids.
October 2001, Week 3 --  New OmniForm puts any business form onto the web and also lets you output forms as Adobe PDF files, retaining all formatting, typestyles, and colors. The number one selling Resume Maker program comes out with a new version at just the right time; a lot of people will be sending out sending out their resumes this year and next. Internuts: A master train site with links to schedules all over North America and personal accounts of travelers. Site for free that checks Macs and PCs for their vulnerability to hacks and viruses. Check in with the latest news from the Center for Disease Control, in Atlanta. Rent a phone that lets you make calls in 104 countries. Test you home for radon, molds, etc. Games: New flight simulator for the FA-18 fighter. Books: Creating PDF files with Adobe Acrobat.
October 2001, Week 2 --  All about Internet search engines. New ones can break request results into categories. You can ask vivisimo.com to search for used cars, for example, and will come back with antique cars, old cars, classic cars, car parts, etc., allowing you to zero in on an a subject. Copernic offers its own special tools, including a new one that can summarize the contents of a web site or a text file; that's a neat trick. Finally, we finish up with a low-cost utility that  can save all your Outlook e-mails, and correspondents' addresses to a, to a file that can be moved to a disk or the web. Open it later and it restores Outlook or Outlook Express to just the way it looked before.
October 2001, Week 1 --  Neobook is one of the nifitiest programs we've ever run; it creates multimedia programs that you can interact with. Acer has a new flatbed scanner that retails for less than $100, and the best part is that it's a really nice scanner. A spell checker that corrects the spelling as you type; don't forget to proof-read though. Internuts: lots of editorials and op-eds collected by the Wall Street Journal. enter your own equations in Mathematica and watch the web site graph them. 15,000 shareware programs at programfiles.com. Games: a sophisticated backgammon game from Canada.
September 2001, Week 4 --  Fierce Pandas kill viruses. Kodak claims its new inkjet photo paper will preserve images for more than 30 years. Music: "Teach Me Piano" has a new version for amateurs; but the new Sonar, from Cakewalk, is strictly for pros. "The Accidental Project Manager" provides advice for those recently promoted above their abilities. Internuts: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has an open library of 16,000 photos online, some of them actually interesting. Ever wonder what happens to a marshmallow bunny if you tie it to a brick and drop it out the window? Nothing good, believe us.
September 2001, Week 3 --  Using the Internet for emergency communications. A business card reader not much bigger than a business card. Logitech has a set of new cordless keyboards and mice; the mice are nice, but who needs a cordless keyboard? The popular TV quiz show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" has been released in an updated game format, and it still stinks.
September 2001, Week 2 -- We look at four switches to network computers. That takes up most of our allotted space. The numbers report finds that Dell computers had the highest satisfaction rating among users. Of course it's been that way for years. Internuts: Trip Advisor has added the UK and Ireland to its coverage of where to stay and what to do. We also looked up some sites for renting vacation villas and such, all around the world. We find a site that lists every federal government database online. And finally, a site full of advice on the benefits of drinking milk.
September 2001, Week 1 --  A super file finder goes though Windows faster than a frightened burglar. The numbers report finds three are nearly half a billion people online now; the U.S. and Canada are home to 40 percent of them. DriveWorks combines several disk drive utilities for moving files and making exact copies of whole drives. WebWasher kills all the ads on incoming web sites; somebody won't be happy about that one. Internuts: Check out the winners and the losers at the international air guitar player contests in Finland. Get a computer "tip of the day." Find ratings on DSL high-seed lines and Internet stores. Science: The "Mathematical Explorer" looks at mathematics from a historical perspective, which is sometimes the best way to look at it. Books: Microsoft Office XP, step by step.
August 2001, Week 4 --  Portable drives are getting faster and cheaper. How about a laser printer for $199? Samsung and Lexmark have them. Internuts: Okinawans live longer. Is it their diet or does it seem that way? How about lunch boxes with movie and TV themes? Lists of internships available in government and business. A truncated version of the Berkeley University "Wellness Letter" is available online. Art and Education: The Musee d'Orsay collection on a CD; an a children's game set in ancient Egypt. Adventure: Another "Nancy Drew" Mystery; a little slow but plenty of fun for parents and kids.
August 2001, Week 3 -- Putting data from the hard drive onto a CD is becoming a common storage solution. But how about taking a CD and compressing its contents onto the hard drive? Could be useful. A color laser printer for less than a thousand dollars. Internuts: thousands of movie and TV show shooting scripts; learn how they look and work. Stolen property for sale, from police departments all over the U.S.  treasure trove of statistics on the U.S. economy. Games: Max Payne is the newest and most sophisticated cop and crime adventure.
August 2001, Week 2 --  Why not use a hard drive itself to back up your computer files? They're cheap and reliable. Use them to mirror the whole system and forget about the main drive crashing. IncrediMail adds animation and other amusing backgrounds to your e-mail. (Okay, it's not for everyone.) Digital Wizard takes control of your downloads. Now you can find them again. And it's free. Universal Explorer replaces Windows own "Explorer" routines and beats them hands down. Internuts: Dogs of the Dow will send you a Chart of the Day. Charts are instant history. The Gutenberg Project is a good place to find several thousand free books. Get your drugs cheaper from Canada. Get home improvement tips from another site.
August 2001, Week 1 --  Have callers listen to music or messages while they are on hold. A simple program that reads aloud any text on your computer, including e-mail. Disposable cell phones are coming this year, some made from paper. MovieWorks is designed to create business presentations and training courses. Internuts: Magazine Rack links you to hundreds of magazine sites, where you can browse the contents. Forget about the fake university degrees, cyberu leads you to degrees from real, reputable schools. Lots more: where to find outlet stores; a site that sells some pretty odd stuff, everything less than $10; how fuel cells work, and how to pedal yourself into the air. New book on Dreamweaver 4.
July 2001, Week 5 --  Cameras with computers and web connections built right into the box will enable us to spy on anything, from anywhere. Another pen scanner has come along and works better than the last ones, but we're not on auto pilot yet. A free download lets you past electronic sticky notes on your computer screen. Internuts: A U.K. site links to world's polar collections museums; an Irish site provides free encryption service for e-mail; free and low cost tech support sources; stitch web pages together to create a set of research notes; source for quotations. Books: how to handle hacker break-ins.
July 2001, Week 4 --  ATI's latest PC display card lets you work with nine screens open at once, displayed on more than one monitor. New scanning camera scans three-dimensional objects. Timex has a new watch that receives e-mail, and, oh yes, it also displays the time. Internuts: science watchdog site keeps tabs on possible conflicts of interest among researchers; astronomy for young children even provides coloring books; more science education provides animated explanations of how the body works; questions and answers from the National Science Foundation. Entertainment: Airport 2000 adds more planes and airports to Microsoft's popular Flight Simulator.
July 2001, Week 3 -- What are all those people doing on the Internet? They're up to no good, you can bet on that. Over half the Internet use by employees of the Internal Revenue Service was for their own personal reasons; businesses and organizations aren't far behind. One-third of all employees browse the Internet with no objective at all. The most popular search term is "sex." It is entered more often than the next eight search terms combined. No*Trace is a former classified military program that completely wipes out a file with a keystroke, and you can't ever get it back.
July 2001, Week 2 -- Cardscan works better than ever at scanning business cards and putting the information into your database; it costs too much, but on the other hand, maybe it's worth it. Lexmark's new multi-function desktop unit is just $149, confirming that there is a new low price range for combination printer, scanner and copying machines. PrintMaster Platinum 11 is the best we've seen yet for making your own greeting cards, banners, jigsaw puzzles and plenty more. Sick of downloading programs? Go to a web site that will download a bunch of them for you and sell you the CD -- cheap. HTML Guard protects your web site's source code and blocks people from copying pictures. Internuts: science quizzes; medical research; prescription drug info; 101 knock-knock jokes.
July 2001, Week 1 --  The once popular Alpha database is out in a new version for Windows, and is one of the few databases that can still be purchased in a DOS version. Zone Alarm and two other low-cost firewalls to keep your computer secure. A growing number of U.S. courts now accept electronic filing of legal documents. Internuts: listen to the music of Leonardo DaVinci; a "yucky" site for kids; marketing tips for new businesses; site links categorized by personality types; hurricane histories. Games: Microsoft builds a great train simulator.
June 2001, Week 4 -- The new FrontPage 2002 website design program from Microsoft: there's good news and bad news. A new addition is out for Half-Life, adventure game of the year for 99. Internuts: Get science news and the latest research delivered to your computer every day; a good teaching site for kids -- and adults -- explains how things work; a site that named the heavy industrial polluters in each U.S. neighborhood suddenly disappears from view; jokes from the University of California at  Berkeley are computer selected to match your sense of humor.
June 2001, Week 3 --   You can send fake e-mails appearing to come from just about anybody you want. You can also send encrypted e-mails and e-mails signed with a digital signature to ensure the recipient that they did indeed come from you. A new Map-n-Go from DeLorme comes just in time for the travel season. Internuts: convert all kinds of measurements into other measurements; Jane's joins the job sites; find the rules for all card, casino and board games; and a great set of research tools for journalists.
  June 2001, Week 2 --  Compaq offers Internet appliance for next to nothing and absolutely nothing. Of course you have to agree to be connected to Microsoft for three years. Color printers drop so low the next step would have to be paying you to take one. Will the last printer company to go out of business please turn off the power? Internuts: The world's biggest, ugliest, smelliest flower blooms at the University of Wisconsin; the crowd goes wild; all the radio stations in the world and a guide to what's on right now. Games: Disney adds one more fantasy to bolster the highly unlikely legend that Atlantis was an island that sank into the ocean. What the heck, it's only a game and a movie.
June 2001, Week 1 --  Xerox, after inventing the mouse and clickable screen icons, and making not a nickel from any of it, returns to computing with a low-priced printer and scanner combination. Epson steps out with an expensive color printer they say can produce prints that will last for at least 200 years. Internuts: What freelance tech workers charge for their services; what's happening in 33 cities around the world; recipes from the television cooking shows; vitamin composition for all kinds of foods. New Plantronics headsets work without a sound card.
May 2001, Week 5 --   Microsoft Publisher 2002 looks and works great; no learning curve unless you want one. Next we look at just one out of several programs that can be used to create a kind of game show for training or education. Internuts: a good site for math tutorials, some free, some not; free investing courses at Bloomberg; a radio locator for radio stations all over the world; the same for books; the same for gardens and gardening; and finally, a site for shopping coupons that claims to pay interest on the savings. Games: a look at Myst III. Books: a guide to Internet search engines.
May 2001, Week 4 --  A great graphics card for gamers gets everybody's vote as a great card for business too. IBM's new web cam is less than $100 and handles full motion video at 30 frames per second. We find three sources for cheap name-brand PCs. Internuts: select radio stations from around the world; browse cartoons from the New Yorker and the world's largest cartoon syndicate; an over-site for quality education sites; and stock analysis from a data provider. How to control widows and orphans in Microsoft Word. Fifty-two programs for making jigsaw puzzles. And a book on making money from the Internet.
May 2001, Week 3 -- Attach a full-size keyboard to your Palm; the handheld industry is about to invent the laptop computer. 14,000 of the best fishing spots along the Florida coast, complete with global positioning coordinates. Attach a thumb-size flash drive to your keychain. Internuts: Britney Spears explains semiconductor physics (about time too); cartoons, essays, reviews and opinion from around the world. Beta version of NetCaptor lets you collect bits and pieces of the web.
May 2001, Week 2 --  Tracking web sites changes on a business web site. A junior version of Mathematica makes that giant math engine more accessible. A new PC card for making calls through the Internet takes care of removing the clicks and wheezes as you talk. We check out three new mice. Internuts: a great research site for new and existing businesses; pick up the public broadcasting system features in print; find out what's happening in any U.S. neighborhood by checking the zip code.
May 2001, Week 1 --   Mimio extends its white board technology to cover flip charts. A new utility for storing bits and pieces of interesting stuff you find on the web. A cookie jar from down under lets you choose which to keep and which to keep out. Internuts: A site with access to 3,000 journals and technical publications; utilities to fix Windows problems; arthritis information site; a guide to Canadian travel; bed and breakfast places. Our own tip for getting better tech support. Games: Quest Creator lets you make your own adventure games.
April 2001, Week 4 --  The Ghost in the machine: how to update everybody at once. A new version of PC Anywhere, and ... Firewalls, which we now need more than ever. Internuts: load a program that draws computer generated pictures; order real French bread; search six million images by subject, and take free language lessons online. Games: "Star Trek: the Away Team" and "Ultima Online" again, in "Third Dawn."
April 2001, Week 3 --  Interested in all those handheld computing devices? That's great, because the people who make them don't use them for much. The leading program for Hollywood screenwriters has a kid sister customized for audio-visual presentations. Some downloads worth a look: encryption for e-mail; stay connected utility keeps your internet service from throwing you out; see your dll's and what they're connected to. Internuts: Where to get drivers for any device; government help with your gardening; find the best deal on phone service; cheat codes for games; win a million bucks for clicking on ads. New force-feedback games and devices that feel the force. 
April 2001, Week 2 --  Iomega's QuikSync backup is quick, easy and now configured to use drives other than their own. NTi's Drive Backup is another good one but saves only to CDs. We also look at software to back up an exact copy of a disk drive. Internuts: A great model railroad site in Finland; more sites to visit for Lionel and Marklin trains; personality tests designed for women; a special site for ticket exchanges and scalping. We look at a box that lets you run several computers with only one monitor, keyboard and mouse. Books: A book about all the art, music and books that are public domain and free to copy.

April 2001, Week 1 --  This week, a portable 20-gigabye hard drive that's low cost, fits in your pocket and takes its power directly from the computer. For more money and only a little larger, you can go to 75 gigabytes. Three useful downloads from the shareware files: a utility that saves the bookmarks from Internet Explorer and they're all still clickable; print a poster up to 20 by 30 yards from an ordinary printer; and print your own graph paper, in any style. Internuts: headlinespot.com brings you news stories and editorials from newspapers and TV stations all over the world; listen to documentaries from National Public Radio; tips for fishermen; jobs for freelancers.

March 2001, Week 4 --  Do you really want that new operating system? We talk about getting your work done. Iomega has a Zippy new photo album program: the software stays with the album. Latin America is the world's fastest growing computer and Internet market. Internuts: Good lawyer's information site has lots of lists; new kid's site has an incredible number of games and puzzles; new science site for kids, and ... vacation rentals available all over the world. 

March 2001, Week 3 --    A free do-your-taxes program. Adobe's new Photoshop Elements is just about picture perfect, and a lot less costly than their standard, Photoshop itself. A nice "drop box" program for the Macintosh sets up private pickup boxes to get e-mail. Pick out your own toll-free phone number at this web site. Internuts: pick out a good summer camp; file a patent; links to free programs; learn some magic tricks. The new Sim Coaster game is a big hit with the kids. A new book on investment web sites. 

March 2001, Week 2 --   Attach sensors to monitor just about anything and then use the new MathCad 2001 to make the calculations as the data comes in. Sierra's new Land Designer tells you what to do with 4,500 plants (no cracks, please).  Check Burpee's catalog and the nursery in TyTy, Georgia, to find something exotic to plant. A new emergency cell phone battery is activated by air. Internuts: praxis.md isn't afraid to offer medical information that runs counter to the conventional wisdom; a security service can monitor your business with round-the-clock web cams; anonymizer lets you troll the web, well ... anonymously. Games: This new Japanimation chick, Oni, is a killer of a cute girl.

March 2001, Week 1 --  Macros make the computer world go round and the new versions of QuicKeys for Windows and Macintosh have a camera feature that records any group of keystrokes and mouse movements and saves them as a single macro. Epson's new "Expression" scanner pushes the scan resolution to 3200 dpi. Internuts: we find a site with free tutorials on everything from piano lessons to fixing doorknobs; a small fee gets you the test results from an independent lab that examines the true contents of vitamin and health supplements; and a free miniature golf game. Books: problem solving books for information technology managers can be sampled at this publisher's web site.

 February 2001, Week 4 -- ATI turns its TV-tuner on a card into an external device that plugs into a PC's USB port. Scientific American magazine puts 71 years of its famous "Amateur Scientist" experiments on CDs, one of the best collections of science experiments to be found anywhere. Internuts: a web site that looks at the wonderful things that were confidently predicted but in fact never happened, not even close; a site with information on just about anything, filled in by 300,000 members; a source of quotations for your desktop. And we finish with a friendly tip.

 February 2001, Week 3 -- A look at a couple Windows clipboard extenders, the most useful utilities we've ever found. CDs are not forever, even if you burn them yourself, and there's the rub, as the bard pointed out. We get a couple of flat-panel LCD monitors, and they're okay, but nothing to go dancing on the desktop about. Internuts:  a good online encyclopedia of computer and high tech terms; a "pre" job hunting site where real people tell you what the job is like and how they got it; and a good game cheat site. Games: Lean back into the fun of childhood and blow the whistle as you build a Lionel train layout on the computer screen. 

February 2001, Week 2 --  Two video editing programs lead off this week's column, and then we turn to a couple of devices from Belkin that add FireWire and four extra ports to your PC or Macintosh. The Internuts section looks at sites for living and retiring abroad, exercise and nutrition, topographical maps, genealogy, photo printing, and a ton of computer tips and other information from the San Diego Computer Society. We wrap it up with a look at a new trackball and a service that prints hard-bound photo albums.

February 2001, Week 1 --  1.) Quick Books 2001 is out, with some new features for the new millennium. A new web service called "Instant Folders" has a neat way to keep everyone in its loop informed and updated. 2.) A moderately priced circuit card for Windows adds both USB and Firewire connections. 3.) Internuts: Beautiful pictures accompany information on one-day hikes in many countries; echarts offers technical analysis of stock charts; site for funny headlines and corrections; free resume maker, and other sites. 4.) Classic board and casino games in two packages from Microsoft.

January 2001, Week 4 --  1.) The whole world is watching, but not the way the radical's 1960s chant meant. The whole world is watching on web cams these days. There are six million of them out there, and to those we can now add a Wristwatch camera from Casio and a pen camera from an outfit we never heard of.  2.) A new web browser lets you see your food before you eat it, so to speak. See the home page and see if you want to go on. 3.) Internuts: web sites for free file storage; children's consumer products tested by children; two travel sites that provide personal experience accounts of where to go and what to do there. 4.) A friendly book of tips for using Microsoft Word 2000.

January 2001, Week 3 --  1. A new easy-to-use program compresses voice and photo files to a tiny fraction of their original size while still preserving clarity when transmitted over phone lines. 2. Voters at the Shareware Junkies web site have picked the best of 1999, and their selections are worth listening to. 3. Twelve trillion bytes of earth images are available at GlobeExplorer and can be accessed as a click from your own web site. 
4. Internuts: Zooba.com provides an education by e-mail; places to find the best links for museums or job hunting; free virus checks; Asian language word processors. 
5. Astronomy: new Red Shift 4 plots 18 million celestial objects in the blink of a cosmic eye.

January 2001, Week 2 --  ClickBook is back, bigger and better than ever, and so is Info Select. The first lets you automatically print information as little booklets or in the standard forms for appointment books, the second is a random access database -- enter information in any order and recall it later in a second. Internuts: a very handy site for currency conversions, current or past; and thousands of web cams -- gorilla cam, London cam, jail cam, etc. And finally ... some downloads that teach you how to play bridge.
January 2001, Week 1 --    Using an emulator to run Windows on a Macintosh. Using programs to help you write a winning resume. Internuts: A directory of tutorials for learning skills in many fields. Medical advice aimed at teenagers. Florida's ballot chads for sale. Shareware that instantly hides what's on your screen. Add-ons for XWrite. Books: Troubleshooting Your PC.

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