Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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December 2002, Week 2 -- Taking Pictures




 Express Web Pictures


   "Express WebPictures" is a $30 picture grabber that lets you rapidly download the pictures and drawings from any web site.

   This is a lot more fun and useful than you would think at first. You can download pictures from your newspaper, for example, or the "National Geographic" or "The New Yorker." Some sites require a password, but it is usually easy to obtain a password.

   The question that comes to mind, of course, is the possibility of copyright infringement. In general practice, no one objects to your taking a printed image for personal use. Thus you see cartoons and photos taped to people's doors in schools and businesses, but I don't think anyone has ever filed a copyright infringement suit over this, even though the pictures are seen by many people walking by.


   You can quickly download cartoons from the New Yorker Magazine's web site, for example, though the images carry the credit line: "," which is the magazine's cartoon site. The National Geographic Magazine is famous for its photographs, and they go to great lengths to display only their finest. (I was present once while more than 25,000 photos were taken to illustrate a story that when published contained eight.) Some could be downloaded and some seemed to be protected. A similar restriction appeared when we went to, which contains thousands of pictures from museum collections.


   Some sites provide huge libraries of images with no apparent restrictions; take a look at the British Museum, for instance The bottom line here is you can quickly accumulate an enormous set of images, from which you can choose illustrations for marketing materials and other publications. Even if the image you choose is copyrighted, you can usually obtain reprint permission for a very small fee. The advantage of using Express WebPictures is speed. The normal procedure would be to browse through a collection, click on an image to enlarge it, then right click to save it to disk. With Express WebPictures, you simply click and drag a web address into the fetch basket. The program then proceeds to download images from that site. The process is many times faster than collecting images individually.


   The program can turn the images into Windows wallpaper or slide shows. It can also be used to create specialized libraries of pictures presented as a new web site. I suspect we have looked at several web sites created in just this way, for the purpose of selling ads.   Express WebPictures is $30 from ExpressSoft; there is a 30-day free trial.


   Note: Several programs let you view dozens of images at once in so-called "thumbnail" sheets, which is the easiest way to do it. We're currently working with one with the odd name of "Ashampoo Illuminator." It's $40 from and allows you to print thumbnail contact sheets.





 Windows XP Security

-- "Windows XP Professional Security," by Weber and Bahadur; $50, Osborne

   Is there anyone in business who isn't concerned about security? When they're awake, I mean. This book outlines the vulnerabilities and the protective actions that can be taken, including the easy ones of adjusting the settings in Windows. For reasons that totally baffle me there are still people who set their email options to automatically open attachments on incoming mail. Say hello to all the viruses.

  "Windows XP Home Edition, the Complete Reference," by Levine and Young; $40, Osborne


   The title is too restrictive because there is a lot of stuff in here that would apply to the small business user as well. The home designation holds though, because of all the information on music and video and game applications. There are more than 1,000 pages here, so everything is covered. By the way, just because a computer book or manual is thick doesn't mean you have to read it all; usually you only need to know a tiny bit of it.




   It's the holiday season for games. For many companies, a third to half of their annual sales will take place in a four week period near the end of the year. We can't cover all the games but here are a few we liked. By the way, prices are omitted because game prices are heavily discounted by many retailers and differences are wide. More will be listed later.

-- "Zoombinis: Island Odyssey," for Win/Mac, from The Learning Company. This is a kid's game and a sequel to one of the best of recent years. Though not as good as the Original "Zoombinis," it's still good.


-- "Zapper: One Wicked Cricket," for Windows, from Infogrames. Rapid action for kids with rapid reflexes.

 Barbie Explorer


-- "Barbie Explorer," for Windows, from Vivendi/Universal. One of several new Barbie titles, this one aimed at ages six and up. No matter how many of these come out, little girls love them.

-- "Disney Magic Artist: Cartoon Maker," for Win/Mac, from Disney Interactive. This is a collection of Disney art and animation tools that a dozen or so years ago were considered professional level. Now it's for six-year-olds and up; lucky kids.  


NOTE: Readers can search nearly four years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at or