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April 2001, Week 4 -- The Ghost in the Machine

 

 Symantec Ghost 7 

   Three new releases from Symantec cover problems from corporate headquarters to work on the road and protection at home and the office.

   Sometimes there's nothing like seeing a "Ghost." Version 7 of Symantec's Ghost is used primarily to update employee computer systems and make sure everyone is on the same page. All the computers carry a tiny ghost, which responds to the master Ghost in the company server. The manager can update all computers with a single command and can migrate any or all users to new computers and new operating systems.

 

   In practice, upgrading all systems to Windows 2000, for example, takes about seven minutes. During the process, the individual system settings of each user are retained. If individual systems are changed after the group update, Ghost records and remembers them.

 

   Ghost pricing runs around $15-$25 per machine, depending on how many computers are in the system. Phone information: 800-745-6054; web: www.symantec.com.

 

   The main competitor to Ghost would be "Picture Taker" from Lanovation. Web site: www.lanovation.com.

 

Remote Control

 

 pcAnywhere

   "PC Anywhere" has been around for a few years and is the leading program for remote control. In fact it's been around long enough (15 years) for us to get to version 10 now. Once loaded onto two or more Windows computers, each can be controlled from a remote location by the operator of the host computer. Each must be running and connected to a phone line.

   New features in this version focus on security. Access is controlled by passwords and transmissions can be encrypted to avoid prying eyes. Files transfers between machines can be automated.

 

   PC Anywhere has a list price of $180, which is for a package covering two computers. Symantec phone and web info same as above.

 

   The main competitor for remote control of distant computers would be LapLink, from Traveling Software. Find more information at their web site: www.travsoft.com.

 

Fire!

 

   On a personal level, business or otherwise, version 3 of "Norton Internet Security" tackles the problems of protection against hackers and viruses.

 Norton Internet Security

   I get a lot of reader queries about virus protection, which is certain to become a more serious problem in the next few years. Hackers are a different problem, since a virus infection is a one-time attack but hacking can continue almost uninterrupted. In the last year hackers from the former Soviet Union have taken more than one million credit card sequences from U.S. business web sites, and the credit accounts of Steve Spielberg, Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft), Ted Turner and Warren Buffet have been broken into.

 

   The best protection against hacking is to turn off your computer. If you have a cable or high-speed line, connection, that connection is always on. So if your computer is on, it's open to the world. You need a firewall, which is provided by this "Internet Security" program and several others.

 

   On viruses, you can color me paranoid. The best protection is not opening e-mail attachments. Of course this is hard to control in a company, because many people receive e-mail and many of them open attachments automatically. E-mail programs like Microsoft Outlook have preference menus that let you select whether you want attachments to be opened automatically. Check this to "off." I never open attachments, even if I know who sent them, since often the sender isn't aware they can be transmitting a virus.

 

   Norton Internet Security contains anti-virus protection, establishes a firewall against intruders and notifies the user when any program on the machine is attempting to access the Internet without a direct command. This can be over-ridden for approved programs. The program is priced from $70-$80. Contact info is the same as above.

 

   Firewalls can be software only or a combination with hardware. The most popular firewall program is Black Ice, $40, www.netice.com. ZoneLabs has a free firewall program available at www.zonelabs.com. You can go to www.grc.com  for a free test of your system's vulnerability.

 

Internuts

-- www.kurzweilcyberart.com  A site belonging to artificial intelligence expert Ray Kurzweil. You can download a free program that helps you write poetry in the styles of 50 poets. Coming soon is a cyber painting program.

-- www.diggit.com  A free image searcher scans its own index of nearly six million images, some free, some copyrighted. A search on Grant Wood's "American Gothic," painted while he was a student at the Chicago Art Institute, turned up dozens of copies, some from sites in Japan. A search on Norman Rockwell came up with 371 paintings, all under copyright protection.

  

-- www.poilane.com  Two walnut loaves, a rye boule and a currant loaf, $34 U.S. from this excellent bakery in France. Extravagant, but c'est la vie. Other choices available. Prices include shipping.

-- www.parlo.com  Free language lessons in English, Spanish, French, Italian or German. Lessons are e-mailed. Site also has newspaper articles, music and games in each language. Pen pals too.

 

Games

   

 

   "Star Trek, the away team." Trekkies will know instantly what the "away team" is and does. Non-trekkies are just out of it. Web: www.activision.com.

   "Ultima Online: Third Dawn," from Origin Systems, is the latest Internet player version of my all time favorite adventure game. (Ultima goes all the way back to the Apple II.) Web: www.uo.com.

   Both games are $40 for Windows.

NOTE: Readers can search more than four years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at bobschwab@oncomp.com  or bobschwab@aol.com.

 

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