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December 2000, Week 4 -- Make a Catalog, Create an Album

   FlipBrowser Gold is a free program for creating online photo albums or catalogs and letting the viewer "flip" through the pages.

   Almost every photo editing program lets you create albums, and if you use photos of products instead of family and friends, the result would be a kind of catalog. What makes this one different is the appearance of flipping through pages. Along with pictures and text, the pages can have "voice-over" descriptions and links to web sites.

 

   FlipBrowser is from E-Book Systems. The program is easy to use, the albums and catalogs look great, and since it's free ... what have you got to lose?

 

   FlipBrowser is for Windows 95/98/NT and can be downloaded for free from www.flipbrowser.com.

 

Make a demo, create a course.

   "InstallShield," a company whose logo you see almost every time you install a new program in Windows, has a new version of "DemoShield," which you see almost as often but it's not apparent.

   DemoShield is used to create product presentations and training courses for distribution through the Internet. The presentations can be interactive, meaning the viewer can control the elements, the pace and respond to questions.

   The new version 6.7 of DemoShield supports streaming video and sound, which is what you have to do to look your best on screen these days. Reduced file sizes make it easier to send and quicker to load.

   The program is not cheap, however: $599 list price and $299 for upgrades. Phone info: 800-374-4353 or 847-240-9111; e-mail: info@installshield.com; web: www.installshield.com.

 

And still more tech support

 

   We received a lot of reader mail about our column on tech support on the web. There's a great need out there. Here are some additional help sites, not covered in the earlier column:

 

-- www.allexperts.com  This claims to be the oldest and largest volunteer help group on the web, and I have no reason to disbelieve them. It's not all computers, but that's a large part of it. Experts whose qualifications are listed offer to answer your questions on a wide variety of subjects. This is one of the best sites we've found so far. Most answers come back same day or within 24 hours. Service is free.

 

-- www.expertcity.com Help for a fee. Fifty volunteer experts are always standing by and they offer to solve your problem for a fee. The range quoted for a nominal question we asked was $10-$25. You pays your money and you takes your choice, as the saying goes.

 

-- www.helptalk.com Free tech support for common problems with computer hardware and software.

 

-- www.techknow-how.com Thirty dollars per call for telephone tech support. They have several free tutorials, however, and provide free tech support for the first 30 days.

 

-- www.tsinc.simplenet.com/index.hts Excellent site; provided good answers. Free.

 

Accounting

 

   Intuit, maker of the popular QuickBooks accounting programs, has created a new web service at www.quickbooks.com. Fee is $15 a month and the site helps you use QuickBooks to handle the accounting problems for businesses with up to 20 employees. The fee includes what Intuit calls "premium technical support," and that by itself is probably worth the price of admission. The site allows businesses to work in conjunction with their own accountants and employees online at other locations. There's a 30-day free trial.

 

Genealogy

 Family Tree Maker 8

 

   Family Tree Maker 8 is out, the latest version of the leading seller among genealogy programs. Tracing family trees is a fairly popular activity and always has been. The program comes in a $60 set with 24 CDs or a 35 CD set for $80. Ungrades from earlier version are $30.

   Most of the CDs are devoted to historical data: census figures, military records, land deeds, church records from both North America and Europe, etc. About 80 million names are listed in those records and they provide a starting point for further research. From there you can go to the same company's site www.genealogy.com, though they charge for further services. There are several other well regarded genealogy sites and a search through yahoo, lycos, google, alta vista, profusion or copernic, will take you to all of them. There are also numerous clubs that share information.

 

 

 

   Family Tree Maker 8 is for Windows 95/98. Phone info: 800-548-1806.

 Internuts at sea

-- www.thecruiseauction.com Strictly for last minute travelers. Bid on accommodations available on cruise ships leaving within the next 30 days or less. Many are leaving within a few days. All bids are for inside cabins only and there are minimums.

-- www.cruisewithme.com  Web cams on board ships and in harbors. Sometimes you see the ship, sometimes the ship sees you.

-- www.cruiseaddicts.com  More web cams, and cruise reviews from passengers who have taken the cruise and ship you may be considering.

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.