Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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Highlights of 2000 Columns  

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December 2000, Week 5 --  Lexmark combines a scanner and inkjet printer in one desktop unit, thus creating a printer, scanner and copying machine. The price is low. PhotoImpact has plenty of impact; our most frequently used graphics program adds new features. New Cookbook turns up the heat. Internuts: "Contentville" has some weird, well ... content. "HolaMujer" gives the Latin slant on being, well ... a woman. "DumbLaws" looks at, well ... dumb laws.

December 2000, Week 4 --  A simple tool for making easy to use online catalogs and albums. A more expensive tool, but good, for making online demos and instructional materials. And still more places to go for tech support with your computer problems (please do not bring them to me). We finish up with programs on accounting and genealogy and then turn to Internuts, which are all about ocean cruises this week.

December 2000, Week 3 --   Four web sites that provide free hard drive storage, albeit of a limited kind; good for transferring large files, either to friends and colleagues or to yourself when you must travel. A recorder that tracks moving vehicles by satellite and can be played back later; others record vehicle position in real time. Internuts: A site full of reviews on just about everything, plus a tuner for hundreds of radio stations; the U.S. Customs Service online; voice and videos featuring comedian Bob Hope. A shareware program for encrypting files and hiding them from view as well.

December 2000, Week 2 --  Is tech support a problem for you? Are you kidding -- are frogs waterproof? We list some tech support sites on the worldwide web, some free, some not. In a couple weeks we'll list some more. Meanwhile, back at the technical dude ranch ... 230 million people over the age of 14 are frequent Internet users. For them and for all of us, more Internuts: all the Frommer Travel Guides are online, for free;  Clickmarks lets you create a personal opening page for the web, with all your favorite sites right there for the clicking; "Random" selects sites at, well, random; Geezer lists geezers who make toys; and we close with the best medical advice site we've found so far.

December 2000, Week 1--   Black and white is the way to go for most printing jobs. A small laser printer from Okidata does a good job and is the cheapest we've found. A nice database is available for free from a shareware site. Twenty-one percent of all shopping browsers on the web have no intention of buying there, a study says; they'd rather take the info and go to a store. Internuts: several sites to visit for sound clips, musical, natural and historic. Why do we call it dialing, when phones no longer have dials? Three new games for children.

November 2000, Week 5 --  Much ado about word processing and how to make it easier and better. (Please note: three of the web site addresses that appeared in the newspaper version of the column, had typographical errors that have been corrected here. Sorry for the mistakes.) We look briefly at WordPerfect, MS Word, XyWrite and Yeah Write. Internuts: Free lectures on investment topics from a non-profit source; a great new weather channel; and eBay sponsors a site that offers products at fixed prices.  

November 2000, Week 4 --  CD recorders are the next hot techno toy for computers. Use them for data storage, backups that can be over-written a thousand times, or cut your own music recordings. We look at some new software to make things easier. Internuts: We also look for some unusual Christmas ornaments and fruitcakes. 

November 2000, Week 3 --  Multifunction desktop machines offer a printer, scanner, copier and fax all in one unit. They don't save the buyer any money but they do save space. We look at new ones from Hewlett Packard and Brother. Internuts: The California Rare Fruit Growers Association; track a package, buy stamps, find a zip code, all from the same site; a collection of science fiction art; send faxes anywhere, from anywhere.

November 2000, Week 2 --  If you think gasoline is expensive, try color inkjet refills; we switch to a laser printer and love it. Five hundred small programs in one package for the Palm Pilot; and a PC program with 20,000 business card templates. Internuts: offbeat news and tips about fitness, investments, dreams, etc.; science news -- the dangers of chocolate, and whether dinosaurs ate trees or grass; vacation spots; web sites for technical tinkerers. Books: Keep Your Computer Running Right.

November 2000, Week 1 --   Lots of math this week: Create a program in Visual Basic and add statistical analysis as a plug-in. Teach yourself calculus or recall the fun of learning how to generate your own formulas with Calculus Wiz. A little program remembers all your passwords for you, and it's free. Internuts: Get air quality numbers for your town, courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency; read em and weep. Get tips and tricks for all kinds of things: how to transfer your records to CDs, how to decorate a pumpkin. Games: Travel around the Roman Empire and try to find Caesar's will; watch out for Marc Anthony.

October 2000, Week 5 --  Bookseller Barnes & Noble has free courses on technical subjects and liberal arts. We tried some and they were excellent. Ricoh has a new high-speed combination CD Read-write and DVD player, at a very reasonable price. Microsoft Works Suite is out in the 2001 version and is such a good deal you should buy it even if you don't need it. The number of registered Internet domain names passed 30 million in October. Internuts: three good stock market information sites, especially for global markets; a place to park your bookmarks and use them from anywhere; 6,700 jobs for writers; and a place in Romania where you can find every .dll file ever made.

October 2000, Week 4 --  Sometimes you feel like a mouse, sometimes it feels right back. "Stuffit" does Windows; the premier compression utility for the Macintosh also runs on Windows. Internuts does the museums this week: three great sites for touring up to 27,000 museums worldwide. Then we find a great site for updating just about everything. LucasArts enters the education category with Jabba the Hut posing math problems. Books: A new edition of the standard work on upgrading PCs.

October 2000, Week 3 --  "Picture Taker " installs new software and updates all the computers in a Windows network, even checking for registry conflicts. "Paint Shop Pro 7" packs a lot of power but takes some learning time. Internuts: A place to do-it-yourself; conduct surveys online; several sites for viewing images from electron microscopes; and the table of elements, with explanations. Three new encyclopedias. And a big book on "Windows ME Secrets."

October 2000, Week 2 --  To clone or not to clone? That is congestion. Whether tis nobler in the rings of RAM to suffer the pings and barrows of a new operating system, or ..., etc. We look at Aloha Bob and a web site that does the same thing. We look at Canon's newest photo editing program and are knocked over; "great" may be understating the matter. Internuts: All about the characters on cereal boxes: did you know Cap'n Crunch was once an admiral? Bizarre patents from Canada: how about a gerbil maze you can wear? Phone numbers, biographies, census figures and all that.

October 2000, Week 1 --  One easy to-use CD-making program makes CDs, well ... easy to make. At last: a USB card that delivers a full speed feed to every USB cable connected to the ports. Internuts: The government Medicare site even rates your local HMOs and nursing homes; ThirdAge lets you look at yourself 20 years from now. And finally, a book on how to do those music CDs. 

September 2000, Week 4 --   New high-speed modem allows 64 users to connect to the same DSL service line. New updated "Will Writer" from Quicken. Or is it from Mattel? Ten thousand home plans from Homestyles, the national leader. Internuts: "Last Minute Search" searches local web sites in other countries; "Research Maven" lets you use a human. Several sites for education and science projects.

September 2000, Week 3 --  It looks like a clothes iron but it's really a network: Lucent makes a fast wireless network that allows 10 users to be online at the same time and the same speed. Neopost has a nice little stamp machine. The photo montage feature in MGI's PhotoSuite makes the kind of photo montage images recently displayed at the Museum of Modern Art. Internuts: Turn yourself into a toy at ToyBuilders; find out which businesses are the most profitable, and other business statistics; compare digital cameras online; and get your stock quotes and charts in Spanish.

September 2000, Week 2 -- has a free program that lets you send and receive large files and folders in seconds. The demise of Napster will not solve the music industry's pirating problems. Math and science courses online. Access and listen to your e-mail by telephone. All about Africa, online. Sci-fi war games are being held all over: three new ones for the action deprived.

September 2000, Week 1 --    Much ado about graphics this week. Two new products from Canadian leader MGI, one for creating panoramic views and the other a nice upgrade of PhotoSuite. Caligari has a new low cost  program for 3-D rendering and Deneba releases a version of Canvas 7. Both are under $100. Canon's low-cost professional level film scanner. Internuts: Thumb through web pages you never new about using eTour. Can't remember which movie had that phrase you can't forget? Find it here at the Internet Movie Database. Check out every ISP.

August 2000, Week 4 --   New web search tool BullsEye 2 hits the bull's eye with us. Ontrack's Internet Cleanup cleans up, well ... your Internet tracks, keeping others from following what you did and do. On the other hand, if you really want to follow everything someone else does on the computer, try Spector, one of several programs that track all movement. Intel makes a web cam you can walk away with, and snap digital pictures somewhere else. Internuts: Bartleby adds Gray's Anatomy; Archaeology looks at Petra; Design Architecture magazine looks at ... you know what; a site just for guys; and a Rembrandt screen saver.

August 2000, Week 3 --  Choosing a digital camera: We pick Panasonic and tell you why; the choice depends on what you find most useful in the way you use the camera. The new "Digital Wallet" give you six gigabytes of storage in a portable hard drive you can drop in your pocket. Internuts:  lots of sports stuff: quotes from ball players, cliches from sports annoucers; things sometime get funny on the Internet;  

August 2000, Week 2--   A Gateway laptop turned out to be a gateway to a lot of trouble. The problem is not confined to Gateway. We respond to some reader requests and add a button to our home page so public relations people can get some advice on how to write a press release. They think they already know how to write a press release, but you couldn't tell that from the stuff we see every day. Two programs about ancestors. Internuts: World's largest dictionary of science now online; ingredients for Thai dishs and other ethnic recipes. "Deus Ex" is the hot new advetnure game.

August 2000, Week 1  Lexmark brings out a new line of printers. Can anyone really make money selling a color inkjet for $30?  Hewlett Packard's new ScanJet scanner features a transparency adapter thrown in, all at a pretty reasonable price. "Undelete 2.0" makes undeleting just about as brainless as the keystrokes you used to lose the data in the first place. "PC Data Finder" finds any Windows file in about the same time it takes to hit the keys. The U. of Pennsylvania has a free program for synchronizing work stations on a network. Internuts: Science fiction, architecture, photo fun, marketing schemes.  

July 2000, Week 4 --   We buy a new used computer and save some bucks. "Refurbished," they call it, and both Dell and Compaq do it. Good quality surveillance cameras; cheap. Free trial copies of VideoWave III for video editing. Internuts: Cows eat potato chips. Find out more at MooMilk. A guide to all the roller coasters you can stomach. Free file storage, free catalogs, free magazines! And finally ... how to fix a toaster.

July 2000, Week 3 --   This is the moment when the columnist goes nuts and rants against the publicity mill of the computer industry, which would issue a press release if they hired a new mail room clerk. In fact they would probably fax it; it's an emergency. How would you like to get 100 press releases a day, most of them incomprehensible, with the subject -- if you can ever find it -- buried in the third paragraph? We have discovered a new corollary to Gresham's law: bad writing drives out good. 

July 2000, Week 2 --    Canon has a package of business plans so your new company can look and sound reasonable to banks and venture capitalists. If you don't know how to do a plan, this will line it up for you. DeLorme Mapping puts fly fishing spots and golf courses on topographical maps in two separate CD programs. Internuts: GE starts a venture capital site and will let you join in the new company fun for only $100,000; a site for political jokes and another where you can pick up a shredder for your digital files.
July 2000, Week 1 --  A tiny flash memory device, about half the size of a pack of chewing gum, plugs straight into the USB port and requires no external reader. Capacity can be anywhere from 16 to 256 megabytes. Web Ramp 200fx connects a fax machine directly to the Internet; faxes can be both sent and received without the long distance charges inherent in standard telephone hookups. Internuts: Seven freeware and shareware programs to let you make free phone calls over the Internet. A site for the new Merrill Lynch "spider" trusts.

June 2000, Week 4 --  A new external CD-RW drive comes with its own fire-wire card for Windows machines. New backup software is designed to work specifically with CD-RW drives. Internuts: a nice site for the periodic table of elements and a stock market information site that belongs in anybody's top ten. Backyard Baseball is back from Humongous and the new version is better than ever; famous ball players are little kids again and choose up sides along with the rest of the neighborhood children. Adobe Photoshop explained by -- who else? -- Adobe. 

June 2000, Week 3 -- Camtasia makes it easy to create presentations, instructional videos and short movies by capturing screens and pulling them together. This is the easiest program of this type that we've ever run. Snappy is back, with improved software. This is a small device that attaches to any Windows computer and takes a snapshot of any frame of video being fed into the computer from an outside source. Internuts: A sophisticated new web site tracks volatility on individual stocks; a couple of sources for tech support; find your old high school classmates; rock concerts around the world; find the cheapest phone rates from A Bell Tolls.

June 2000, Week 2 --  A new service from Net2Phone lets a web site master make any phone number on the site clickable. Just click on the number and you are automatically connected via the web; no charge. Click2Send is a different kettle of fish, if I may mix my metaphors. This service is like a lock box. Users can store files of up to 100 megabytes, which can then be collected by anyone who has the right key code. The new Pentazip utility handles 50 different formats and 10 levels of compression. Internuts: Experts answer questions, like what to do if a squirrel runs up your pants. Browse 200 computer books online.

June 2000, Week 1 --  Casio comes up with the handheld computer we've been waiting for; if you liked 3Com's Palm Pilot, you'll love the Cassiopeia. Intel's AnyPoint is the best of the wireless networks and a couple new units make it a snap to slide a card into a laptop and have it talking to your desktop seconds later. Internuts: 800 kinds of hot sauce; a locomotive screen saver; Chicago cows on parade, and the Daily Racing Form.

May 2000, Week 5 --   Paper Converter converts the scan of any document into a page that can be posted directly to the web; a similar program works even better for OmniPage users. HoldWare adds music and messages for your phone callers on hold, just like a real business. Internuts: Do your research papers on the web; check a site that links to every investment service in the universe; information on herbs; and recipes from Yum Yum. Lots of sources for photos of stars and stuff.

May 2000, Week 4 --  Hewlett Packard's new fits-in-a-briefcase printer is heavy but loaded. A couple of new CD drives can read and write regular CDs and and also read DVD disks. Free MP3 music file manager. Internuts: The National Portrait Gallery of Great Britain; the Library of Congress; government jobs, news about the military, and the National Ant Colony Developers Association. Games: Disk Golf and Miniature Golf. 

May 2000, Week 3 --  I-opener is a low-cost device for surfing the web instead of using a computer; it's been an eye-opener in other ways as well. So You Want To Be A Millionaire makes a second try as a computer game and this time it actually works. Internuts: Sites to try where you ask the advice of a real doctor; sites that offer protection against viruses (the computer kind); download more hamsters doing wheelies.

May 2000, Week 2 --   Application Service Providers (ASPs) are taking dead aim at packaged software and intend to kill it. Download Copernic for heaven's sake; find your own way on the web. Internuts: learn who makes those mysterious crop circles that are supposed to be from outer space; marry Tom Arnold, get free forms, watch TV celebrities bicker and act petty. New update of Red Shift, the great astronomy program. 

May 2000, Week 1 --   A bunch of free and shareware utilities, including the very, very handy ClipCache Plus. Find any word in any file in tenths of a second with InfoRapid; change the Windows settings with X-Setup. Internuts: Take a look at one of the best sites we've ever visited, in Journalist Express. Two new crossword puzzle programs for word fun.

April  2000, Week 4 --  Want to use the script program used by the Academy Award winner? It's out in a new version. Buddy and Applica turn one computer into two. We've written about it before, but people still ask. Internuts: tour the Smithsonian, The Museum of Natural History and other cool places; do research, get maps; get recipes, lots of free stuff, games.

April 2000, Week 3 --  Suddenly ... it's WinFax 10!  One of the oldest programs in the software business gets another facelift, and looks terrific. Two new printers from Canon and Epson offer some nice features for nice money. DemoShield makes, well ... demos. What else would you think? New Internuts: find the right hotel in Pago Pago; find lawyers, investment advice, photographs, etc.

April 2000, Week 2 --  Lots of free stuff these days. Two web sites offer free database services and look pretty useful. Power Desk 4, one of the best utilities you can get, is now free from maker Ontrack, at their web site. Creative Labs new web cam can be unplugged and used as a regular digital camera. This week's Internuts includes rideboards, for people looking for rides or riders to share expenses, ghost stories from the American South, and other useful sites. Two new action games provide some fun for "down time."

April 2000, Week 1 --  New CDs claim a usable life of 200 years or more. System Mechanic 3 cleans the registry. Maptech has made its excellent range of maps available free on the web. Free newsletters, horoscopes, crossword puzzles and the Social Security Administration online. The "Prince of Persia in 3D" and "Thief II" keep the adventure going.

March 2000, Week 4 --   What's the highest profit item in the computer world? How about $5,479 a gallon for the ink in your color printer? A thorough survey finds there's a lot less going on with Internet business than the hype in the media would lead you to believe. Stephen King writes an e-book. Could be a publicity stunt for one of the worst ideas ever produced in computer dizzy-land. A CD-Rewritable drive aimed at the consumer market misses by a mile.

March 2000, Week 3 --  And now ... for a really cheap removable cartridge drive, how about $50. A new IBM web camera has a socket in the back to take outside video, and it automatically converts that video to digital format. 3Com's new web cam operates clearly in very low light conditions. Internuts include advice on eating more chicken; two invention sites, one from MIT, the other a cartoon, and doing surveys online.

March 2000, Week 2 --   A look at Microsoft Works 2000 and Microsoft Home Publishing. Window Washer 3 removes all traces of your Internet activity. This not only keeps others from knowing where you've been, but clears the clutter that builds up in schools and libraries. New Epson scanner for large size documents. In the Internuts: free Internet service; political cartoons from everywhere; animation and more. New Internet guide book.

March 2000, Week 1 -- The new Hewlett Packard 1220c printer lets desktop users print large sheets, up to 17x19 inches; quality is terrific. Two new scanners from Visioneer, one small and one large, with buttons on the front that let you send the scan where you want it. Learn a foreign language a word a day. Look at pictures made in pure ASCII. And ride the Wheel of Time or Explore Final Fantasy VIII in games people play.

February 2000, Week 5 --  WordPerfect Office looks better than you-know-who's Office, but can you sell it to the management? Computers decorated like toys run a lot more than games. Internuts: Bartleby publishes classics; Library Spot takes you everywhere in a search for knowledge; find festivals; and a site that finds your best deal on phone service.

February 2000, Week 4 --  A few hacker attacks and everybody's out there selling security: from black boxes to Black Ice. A box of "Fix-It" utilities. This week's Internuts have a "blue light" special for K-Mart shoppers -- free internet service; plus a good medical info site, and free worksheets for home study.

February 2000, Week 3 --  PhotoShop and Canvas are nice, but it costs a lot less to go with Jasc's Paint Shop Pro or Adobe PhotoShop LE.  The Internuts are mostly concerned with recumbent bicycles this week, so sit back and relax. Mattel's "Big Dirt Movers" and Lego's "Racers" keep the kids on track. Inktomi says there are a billion web pages.

February 2000, Week 2 --  MapTech has the most interesting topographic map program we've seen; very highly detailed, but reasonably priced. A little green box adds TV reception to your computer, and the red button captures any screen; you can send video out as well. Internuts: old airplanes, pictures from space, self-destructing e-mail. Two children's programs.

February 2000, Week 1 --  Iomega's newest cartridge drive is straight put of a James Bond movie. CD drives move in on the traditional backup turf. In the Internuts section: take a virtual visit to George Washington's Mt. Vernon; what do those vanity plates really say; the National Lampoon plays games, the Lonely Planet guides the way, and others. 

January 2000, Week 4 --  Free phone calls. Make them completely free and suffer a little bad reception, or pay a little extra and get clear lines. Internuts: a charming game site that carries on Sleeping Beauty and other fairy tales after their fairy story ended; building supplies, classic car clubs, etc. The Diamond Viper II sets the mark for accelerator cards.

January 2000, Week 3 --  OmniViewer strips the news across your screen. Java Razor has Java applets for making web page buttons and animations. Photo Deluxe 4 finally does what we always wanted it to do. Internuts: Crayola opens the best children's web site we've seen; two new shopping sites let you haggle over price or bid on industrial products. Entertainment: Bugs Bunny is Lost In Time, but handling it well.
January 2000, Week 2 --  So-called RAID systems for mirroring one hard drive to another are now available for ordinary desktop use for around $200. Why let a hard drive crash get in the way of doing business? A $50 package of useful programs provides nearly all you need to control a small business. Internuts: links buyers and sellers with Asia; plumbers tell you to how to get flush. The last Ultima adventure rounds off a classic series; Shanghai returns.

January 2000, Week 1 --    This is kind of a millennium column. Once every thousand years I let myself muse about the future of some aspect of society and technology. This time it's about e-commerce and all those stores on the Internet. I'm less than enchanted with the prospect of buying everything online. Unfortunately, after the column was written, but before it appeared in print, several other voices were raised in skepticism too.

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