April 2005, Week 2 --
Aloha There, Bob
Years ago when we first wrote about "PC Relocator" it was called
"Aloha Bob," and we have a recollection that it was written by a guy
whose dad, name of Bob, lives in Hawaii. Every time Bob bought a new
computer he would ask his son to fly in from Florida to help him
transfer things over. Well, enough of that, son said.
Somewhere along the way "Aloha Bob" mutated to a more business-like
title but it's still the best program you can get for moving from an old
computer to a new one. It's called "PC Relocator, Ultra Control 2005"
now, and it does some neat things.
First you install the software on the old computer, then the new
one. Then you connect the two with a USB cable provided in the box. If
the two computers are networked everything will go a little faster. PC
Relocator started out by recommending we shut down any programs running
in the background of either computer. We didn't have anything visible
running but we strongly suspected there were things going on out there
in the back room; there always are.
A screen message asked us if we wanted PC Relocator to shut down
the background programs for us. Okay, we clicked. It then shut down 25
programs running in the background of the old computer and 22 in the new
one. Now mind you, as far as you could tell from looking at the screen
there wasn't anything running.
The next step was synchronizing the names of the two computers. Did
you know computers identify themselves by the name of "the administrator
of the user account." The computer puts in "owner" if you don't select a
name. PC Relocator suggested we use the same name for both computers.
Joy figured out how to do this by doing a search in Windows XP's "help
and support" subject in the "Start" menu.
The main screen offered the choice of transferring everything
automatically, things on a case-by-case basis, or standard, which it
turned out was the best way to go. Using the standard transfer method we
got to choose whether we wanted to move programs, files, settings, or
any or all of the above.
A list appears telling you what programs are available for
transferring to the new computer. It turns out that not all of them can
be transferred. The list of programs that can be transferred easily show
a green bar. Those with possible problems show a yellow bar. Ones not
likely to transfer show as red and 'there's no way this is going to go,'
shows as black. After you've moved what you want, a feature called "data
cleaner" permanently removes all data from the hard drive of the old
This is not an absolutely perfect solution to moving everything to
a new computer but it's the best you can get. It transfers all your
email with no trouble, and for a lot of people that's a big part of what
they want done. Thank heavens for a dad in Hawaii. PC Relocator, Ultra
Control is $70 from www.alohabob.com;
the standard version is $30.
Internuts: Are they pulling our Lego?
www.henrylim.org. Personal site of a guy in California who builds
fantastic things out of Lego blocks. His full size Lego harpsichord can
even be played.
www.amyhughes.org/lego Amy has built a Lego cathedral, and it looks
fabulous. It's seven feet by five and made from 75,000 pieces. The
interior will seat 1,372 Lego people. Gotta see it.
A flick of the wrist
Now here's a gizmo whose time has come. It's a wrist watch PDA
(Personal Digital Assistant) from Fossil, the watch company.
The wrist PDA uses the Palm operating system and has eight
megabytes of memory. It can store thousands of addresses, years worth of
appointments, memos, and other programs, like games. An infrared
transmitter and receiver allows you to beam information to somebody
else's wrist PDA, or anyone else with a device using a Palm compatible
The watch supports both Mac and Windows data transfer through a USB
cable, which comes with it. The price is $249 from Fossil,
www.fossil.com, your choice of metal or leather watch band. And oh,
by the way, the wrist PDA also tells time.
A similar wristwatch PDA is made by Abacus. It's a little cheaper,
www.abacuswatches.com. Both have calendars, to-do memo lists and a
tiny stylus with which you can tap on letters and numbers to enter new
information. The stylus folds up and fits into the watch strap buckle.
Both these watches come with batteries and AC adapters that can
recharge the batteries. They even come with an extra stylus in case you
drop the tiny thing somewhere and never find it again.
And how's this for a kick? You can beam you business card to anyone
else with a similar watch or Palm compatible PDA.
-- "Show Me, QuickBooks 2005," by Gail Perry CPA; $22 from Que
A professional accountant guides the reader through the sometimes
difficult complexities of QuickBooks. This is part of Que's "ShowMe!"
series, which are all lavishly illustrated and show the reader what they
should be seeing on the screen as they go through each step of a lesson.
-- "Windows XP, Home Edition, the Missing Manual," by David Pogue; $25
from O'Reilly Press
Another volume in O'Reilly's popular "Missing Manual" series. The
reason they're so popular is they're great, much better than regular
manuals. In fact we have never seen a manual from a computer company
that was as good as a separately published book on the same subject.
NOTE: Readers can search several years of columns at the "On Computers"
www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at
and Joy Schwabach at