Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

Home (947 bytes)

Columns  (947 bytes)

Internuts (947 bytes)

  Bob's Bio (947 bytes)

Email (947 bytes)





 About Us




December 2003, Week 5 -- Ah, Peace and Quiet

 Privacy Expert 7


   The "Privacy Expert Suite" from Acronis, blocks pop-up ads, erases spyware, prevents downloads of unwanted software, erases passwords from online forms, and shreds data on your hard drive when you want it permanently deleted.

   This last feature is a business must. We frequently read and hear about cases where someone purchased a used computer, took a look at the files on the hard drive, and ... look at that: there's a list of all our clients and how much they spend and whether or not they pay on time.


   The U.S. Department of Defense standard for destroying computer files is 4X overwrites. That means the file or files should be overwritten with new data, usually some kind of gibberish, four times. This supposedly obscures the buried data to the point where it cannot be recovered. The Acronis Privacy Expert overwrites the files four times and up: pick a number and go as high as 35 times if you wish.


   Many people believe that simply reformatting the hard drive is sufficient protection against anyone attempting to reconstruct the data. But "Easy Recovery 6.0" from Ontrack is able to recover files from reformatted hard drives fairly quickly. If you overwrite a file 35 times, however, nobody is going to be able to recover it.


   The "Acronis Privacy Expert Suite 7.0" is $40 from "Easy Recovery 6.0" is $95 on CD, at


Easy does it


   Nothing simplifies our life with the computer as much as a clipboard extender. The Windows Clipboard, which allows you to define a piece of text, save it, and then paste it into a new application, is inadequate.

   The standard Windows clipboard holds only one item. If you want to move a second item, it automatically replaces the first one. The version that comes with Microsoft Office can hold 24 items, still not enough for many purposes. A clipboard extender solves the problem.


   The best known, and probably best overall, is "ClipMate" from Thornsoft Development. ClipMate can store thousands, including pictures and charts as well as text. We use it to hold blocks of "boiler-plate:" frequently used text like standard replies to letters and email and commonly repeated explanations. It also holds electronic signatures, email addresses and graphic letterheads.


   The current 6.2 version of ClipMate includes a dictionary and thesaurus, screen capture by region, a search engine, and the ability to encrypt sensitive data. The list price is $30 for an individual user; web site:


Geek of the week

Speak with a Geek

   Twice in the past week we had computer problems that defied our best efforts. So we turned once more to "Speak With A Geek"

   This is the best technical support service we've found and we have used them several times. They charge $35 a month for one PC, but there's a five-day free trial for new customers.

The numbers report


   Digital cameras comprised over half of all new camera sales this year, a first for the new technology and a trend likely to continue. Traditional film cameras still have the best image resolution and control but digital ease of use and convenience have won over most consumers and many professional photographers as well.


   Cheap disposal cameras now dominate sales for film -- an estimated 220 million disposables will be sold this year -- and high-quality film camera sales have plummeted. A spokesman for the Photo Marketing Association says that sales of high quality film cameras will never recover their past lead.


The fun of having an edge


   Often the fun is just being able to continue with the game. The GameWinners web site offers so-called cheat codes for 21,200 computer and game console games.


   "Cheat" is a misnomer here. While it is a common term for ways to get around difficult game problems, it's more often simply a way to keep your character from being killed every couple of minutes. Some games require you to start over from the beginning if your character is killed, which can get quite annoying after a while. Though there are many cheat sites, what interested us about this one was the breadth of the coverage and that they had cheat tips for Nancy Drew adventures.



Hordes of Underdark

   "NeverWinter Nights" from Atari  is a dungeons and dragons adventure for Win 98 and up, with a new expansion pack: "Hordes of the Underdark." Nearly all players loved it.

   This is a classic D&D adventure and brings up a couple of interesting points about computer games today. Overall sales of computer games may experience their first decline or at best remain static this year, though the revenue still slightly exceeds movie box office sales. Even if there is a decline, the popularity of such games is assured for the long term. The reason is as simple as can be: because while a movie can entertain us for a couple of hours, an adventure game such as this entertains for months, making it a good buy.


NOTE: Readers can search past columns on our web site: You can e-mail Bob or Joy Schwabach at  or