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     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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August 2001, Week 3 -- CD or not CD

  CD Anywhere

 

   Last week we talked about using low-cost hard drives for back up storage. How about using them to run CDs -- without the CD?

   The Windows program "CD Anywhere" from V Communications can automatically create a compressed version of a CD on the computer's hard drive. This is not a way to get around copy protected CDs; if you're having thoughts of copying a friend's game CDs onto your hard drive, you can "fugeddaboutit," as they say in New Jersey. Simple games, yes; complex games, no.

   What CD Anywhere does, is get us away from having to swap CDs to find data from a large set of database disks, find images, MP3 music files, etc. Okay, so far, but how about going farther, or further, as the case may be. This program will also compress business application CDs onto a hard disk and this can be useful if you are going to carry a portable hard drive.

 

   The single-CD version of Microsoft Word, for example, compresses down to about 50 megabytes with no trouble. A single-CD version of Microsoft Office can be copied to the hard drive in as little as 130 megabytes. In essence, any CD that does not have a copy protection routine that requires the computer to access the CD itself, can be compressed and copied onto a hard disk drive.

 

   Aside from the convenience there is an enormous advantage in speed. A hard disk drive is the equivalent of a 200X CD drive, in other words: 200 times faster than a CD running at standard 1X speed. This speed works in both directions: storing information as well as getting it back out again.

 

   CD Anywhere, version 2.0, costs $30 in the download version, $40 as a boxed CD. It was so easy to use we never did have to consult the manual. And by the way, we were able to copy some games too. Phone info: 800-648-8266; e-mail: sales@v-com.com; web: www.v-com.com.

 

   We also came across a shareware program that does much the same thing as CD Anywhere. It's called "CDSpace" and we found it on ZDNet www.zdnet.com. There was no saving, however, as the program sells for $35 in the download version, but you do get two free trial uses.

 

   In general, though we have used many shareware programs, I would rather have a program from a name company if there is no pricing penalty.

 

Hard copy: some heavy lifting

  

   The big news here is Minolta's new color laser printer, the "Magicolor 2200 DeskLaser," which sells for $999 after a rebate. This is the first color laser for less than $1,000, most of them selling for around $3,000-$4,000.

   The advantages of a color laser printer are speed and detail. This one prints five pages per minute in color and 20 ppm in black. You can get very fine line definition that is difficult to match with an ink-jet color printer. The disadvantage is color; ink-jet printers provide more intense color prints.

   Here's a tip: If you get one of these, don't send the secretary down to pick it up. When we got ours for testing, the package weighed a muscle straining 118 pounds. Minolta

 

 phone info: 800-523-2696 or 251-633-4300; web: www.minolta-qms.com

 

   Brother's new HL-1440 black and white laser printer replaces the earlier HL-1250, which we have sitting on our desk. The price is $299, the same as the older unit but the output is 15 pages per minute compared to the older printers 12 ppm. Brother's practice with laser printers is to keep the pricing the same but add more features.

 

Internuts

 

-- www.script-o-rama.com  Hundreds of TV and movie shooting scripts are available for free. Download the classic Seinfeld TV comedy scripts, like the soup nazi and marine biologist episodes, and movies as diverse as Citizen Kane and Die Hard II and Blade Runner. (NOTE: This site had the first example we've seen of a banner advertisement that said "ENTER," making you think you should click there to enter the web site. In fact, clicking "ENTER" took you to a gambling casino site.)


 

-- www.propertyroom.com  If the police can't find the owner of recovered stolen property, they put the items up for auction. This site contains items recovered by police departments around the country, kind of a cop version of eBay.

-- www.freelunch.com  A large free library of statistics on the U.S. economy. Information on demographics, real estate, consumer prices, crime, etc. (The name "Free Lunch" is a play on Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman's oft-quoted remark: "There is no free lunch.")

 

Game time: Playing with firepower

  Max Payne

   The hottest computer game of the season is "Max Payne," a Windows action adventure that centers on a New York undercover cop framed for murder and fighting to clear himself and bring the killers to justice. The action takes place during a blizzard in New York and has all the twists and firepower of one of those John Woo high body count movies. It's from Remedy: www.maxpayne.com.

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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