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August 2000, Week 1 -- Hard Copy

  

   The Lexmark "Z" series of inkjet printers is aimed at home and small business users, and prices run from a rock bottom $30 up to $180.

   Yep, that's $30. We went into one of those large discount office supply stores a few days ago and there were stacks of Lexmark Z11 printers, all a trifle less than $30 each, after a $50 rebate. No one can make money selling color printers for less than $30, so they must be figuring to make it up on volume, as the old joke goes; or by selling ink cartridges, which cost almost as much as the printer.

 Lexmark Z52 printer

 

In general, as you go up in price, what you are paying for is speed and resolution. The lowliest of the Lexmark printers has 1200 dpi (dots per inch) resolution. That's so high it hardly seems worth paying to go any higher, so what you are primarily paying for next is speed. The Z11 is rated at four pages per minute (4 ppm), a speed reached maybe in its dreams. The true speed on printers is almost always less than the stated speed. As you move up to the Z52, you get higher resolution, 2400 dpi, but the main difference is 15 ppm output. This fits what companies usually want in a printer. After all, time is money.

Some "Z" models work with Windows or Macintosh; check the web site or the box. Lexmark phone: 888-539-6275; web: www.lexmark.com.

 

Scanners

   Hewlett Packard's new Scanjet 5370C includes a much sought after item: a transparency adapter. Ever since we first wrote about scanners readers have asked how to scan their color slides. To do that you need a transparency adapter, which used to be an expensive extra. Now they're throwing it in with the 5370C, which has a street price of $299.

   The problem with scanning slides or any film transparency is that the light from a scanner comes from the bottom, and simply bounces off the piece of film. The only way the machine can "see" the image is to have it lit from above. This requires a special box that holds the slide and has a built-in light.

   The sharpness of the image is depends on the resolution of the scanner and how many colors it can distinguish. The higher the better in this case, though no scanner is going to be able to duplicate the full resolution of the film itself.

 

   The Scanjet 5370C also has a set of buttons on the front for quick command of common functions: scan, print, e-mail, fax. This copies an approach first used by Visioneer.

 

   HP phone info: 800-722-6538; web: www.hp.com.

 

Recover file

 

 Undelete 2.0

   The simple premise of Executive Software's "Undelete 2.0" is if you can accidently delete a file with a keystroke, you ought to be able to recover it with a keystroke. It takes a few more key strokes than that but it's still fast and simple. Unfortunately, only some of us can use it.

   Undelete is for Windows NT and Windows 2000 operating systems only. One company that uses the program reported a reduction for recovering files from 20 minutes to 30 seconds. Forget about hack attacks and viruses; nearly 90 percent of all lost data is caused by employee mistakes. List price for Undelete 2.0 is $249 for the server version. Phone: 800-829-6468 or 818-547-2050; web: www.executive.com. Free trial version.

 

Find file

 

   "PC Data Finder" is by far the fastest search tool we've ever seen for Windows. It finds any word within a file and posts the location and last date it was visited. Don't blink or you'll miss the whole search process. Searches can be conducted in English, Greek, German, Russian and Bulgarian. We have no idea why such an odd assortment of languages.

 

   Searches can use wild cards, boolean relationships, and proximity (looking for something you can't quite recall but you know is likely to be near a distinctive word or phrase you do recall). Data Finder works on e-mail as well. It's just under $100, from Silver Lake Technologies. Phone: 973-259-9300; fax: 973-748-3015; web: www.silverlaketech.com.

 

Single file

 

   The University of Pennsylvania has developed a program that can keep replicated files consistent across multiple computers. Any update to one can be transferred to others. The program is free online. Web site: www.upenn.edu.

 

Internuts

-- www.brandcities.com   News on marketing strategies by giant corporations. Tips and examples that you might be able to use for your own business.

-- www.philipkdick.com  A site devoted to the works of science fiction master Phillip K. Dick. The movies "Blade Runner" and "Total Recall" were based on stories by Dick. Blade Runner was based on "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" Total Recall was based on "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale."

 

-- www.photofun.com Upload your photos for friends and family. Make a screen saver, greeting card or postcard using the pictures. Lots of advice on digital cameras and how to make a digital slide show.

-- www.greatbuildings.com Computer generated 3D views of 800 of the world's best known man-made structures. A good teaching tool.

-- www.geocities.com/soho/1469/flw.html All Frank Lloyd Wright.

-- www.arplus.com Modern architecture and design, beautifully illustrated.

 

-- www.prettystrange.com A guide to strange sites, many of them incredibly stupid. Recent offerings: One-word movie reviews; this is your wife (a search for the one and only girl of a guy's dreams); alien calling cards, etc.

 

NOTE: Readers can search more than three 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.