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     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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December 2000, Week 5 -- Hard Copy

 

 

   Lexmark has a new combination printer-scanner-copier for Windows for $199. This is less than half the price of other multi-function machines we've looked at and lacks only the fax component.

   The Model Z82 consists of a flat-bed scanner (letting you can scan either from a book or a single sheet) together with a color inkjet printer in the same unit. Push button controls let you move directly from scan to print, thus creating the equivalent of a color copier. Scanner resolution is 300 X 600 dpi (dots per inch), printer is 1200 X 1200 dpi in either black and white or color. Like most scanners you can reduce or enlarge the original document.

 

   The quality is good and you save desk space and money compared with buying the two pieces separately. some people like multi-purpose units for those very reasons; while others object on the ground that if one of the functions fails, you usually lose all the functions. I've never had one fail, but we haven't run these units for long periods either.

 

  Also from Lexmark is a new laser printer, the Optra E312L, for $299. Print speed is 10 pages per minute, resolution is 600 X 600 dpi, and it works with either Windows or Macintosh.

 

   The Optra series has been a business workhorse for the past several years. Different models usually vary only by speed and accessories. Per page costs tend to be cheaper than other laser printers because of large ink cartridges and high volume output. The maximum duty cycle for this model, for instance, the cheapest in their line, is 10,000 pages a month.

 

   Lexmark phone info: 888-539-6275; web: www.lexmark.com.

 

Photos and Graphics

 

 Photo Impact 6

   "PhotoImpact" has been our main photo editing program for the web for the past several years. They're up to version 6 now, and the new one adds web page creation.

   The new photo album function will automatically catalog all the images on your drives. You can add digital watermarks to anything you post to the web, providing evidence of primary ownership if anyone copies it. A feature we particularly like is transparent backgrounds. Often if you create a logo or mask a picture for the web, the background remains with the cut, creating a color clash or faint nimbus. It looks amateurish or worse, so what you really want is transparency for everything but the graphic itself.

 

   Since digital photos are a hot topic, this is a good place to mention the other image editing products that have impressed us recently.

 

   Microsoft's "Picture It!" is an often overlooked program with great photo editing tools. We spent some time with it and were pleased. It was easy to use. Others worth serious attention are Canon's "Photo," the advanced edition; Jasc's "PaintShop Pro" and MGI's "PhotoSuite." Each of these has features not found in the other image editing programs, so it's hard to give them up. The Canon and Microsoft programs were the easiest to use and required no learning curve.

 

   A great site to visit for PhotoImpact is not from the company but a fan and a user. It's "Stephanie's PhotoImpact Tutorials." The site has a bulletin board, lists of resources, scanning tips, etc., and of course, some of Stephanie's own creations. Address: www.eastofthesun.com.

 

Internuts

 

-- www.contentville.com A wide mix of content from many sources: books, screen plays, trade journals, doctoral dissertations, etc. You can read first chapters and summaries for free, then pay for the full work if you want it. It was hard to resist reading more of "Packaging at the Crossroads," or "Paints, Pigments and Varnishes in Canada." "Identity Formation in 19th Century Telugu-speaking India" sounded intriguing as well.

 

-- www.holamujer.com Well designed site aimed at Latina women. Information on health and beauty, parenting, careers, money management, shopping, etc. Free e-mail. Site can be viewed in either Spanish or English. Has country specific regional news and advice.

 

-- www.dumblaws.com  In Fairbanks, Alaska, it is illegal to serve alcoholic beverages to a moose. (How would they know?) In West Virginia children are not allowed to attend school with the smell of onions on their breath. (Good thing.)

 

-- www.geolaws.com Find a lawyer, get legal forms, even settle a case online. If abroad, get information from U.S. embassies.

 

-- www.emergencyemailnetwork.com Fill in your zip code and e-mail address and the site notifies you of natural disasters, power outages, weather forecasts and emergency warnings for your area.

 

-- www.mothership.com  Sci-fi news, movie trailers, comic books, photos, games and shopping.

 

-- www.websitegarage.com  A service that looks over your web site and grades it according to design, loading time and other criteria. Free for three months.

 

Food: What's cookin?

 

   We haven't done a cookbook in quite a while and this one is our favorite. It's "Master Cook," from Sierra. The latest version is "Master Cook, the complete suite, featuring Betty Crocker's recipes," $50 for Windows. The set contains Master Cook Deluxe plus seven Betty Crocker cookbooks; 6,500 recipes in all. Try the "orange scones" for the best tea scones you ever ate. Phone: 800-757-7707 or 425-746-5771; web sites: www.sierrahome.com and www.mastercook.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.