Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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December 2005, Week 1 -- Find That Blasted File

  Search and Recover 3


   You know it was there at one time (the file, we mean); it just doesn't seem to be there now. Fear not. Chances are, this program can dig it out. It worked for us.


   It's Search and Recover 3 from Iolo. It has a simple menu where you select the type of file you're looking for: photos, text, video, all files, or ... best news of all -- lost emails. (If your computer is already giving you trouble, you might have problems recovering files.)




  Some files may have been lost for days and some for years, but usually they're all still there, somewhere, in the bowels of the digital dungeon. You can even recover data you thought was lost because you emptied the recycle bin.




  Search and Recover 3 is $40 from, less from discount stores. Search and Recover works with Win 98 and up and includes a "mirroring" utility. This can be used to back up the entire contents of any drive, including thumb drives. This is a good protective program to have around, unless you are just incredibly well-organized and never lose track of anything. (Sure, that person must be somewhere.)




Norton Internet Security


 Norton Internet Security 

   We have always had some fear when installing new software from Symantec, because it has sometimes messed up our computers. Then again, other times it worked perfectly, so it has been a chancy business. We installed the new Norton Internet Security 2006 and, we're happy to say, everything seems to be working fine. The new interface is much easier to use.


  Our main desktop computer, which has hundreds of programs on it, used to run so slowly that we could make a cup of tea while Word opened. It would occasionally come to a halt in the middle of an operation. Three things fixed that. Symantec's Norton Internet Security, Spybot Search and Destroy, and Diskeeper.




   Diskeeper, from, defrags our computer every night automatically, preventing files from being scattered all over our the drive. Now the central processor doesn't have to work overtime fetching what it needs, and the computer runs 13 times faster than it did.




   The Norton program is important for keeping away hackers, spammers and viruses, but it doesn't keep out all spyware. Occasionally, we run Spybot, the free program from, or Spy Sweeper, $30, from




   The Internet Security package, which includes Norton Antivirus, Personal Firewall, Privacy Control, AntiSpam and Parental Control, can be had from for $20. This bargain results from a $20 rebate plus another $20 off if you can show proof of owning a previous Norton product or any competitor's product.




Hard Driving




  Barracuda Hard Drive


   Seagate has launched a couple of heavy-duty drives for people who want heavy-duty capacity. One is for the inside, the other for outside.


  The Barracuda 7200.9 is an internal drive that can hold 500 gigabytes. That's half a terabyte (1,000 gigabytes) and moves this drive up into what can easily be called industrial-strength size.


   People who do a lot of work with video and music can really use this kind of capacity. The transfer rate, which as all techies know, is high on the priority list, is 3 gigabits per second. That's "bits," not "bytes." So if we translate that (eight bits make a byte) to compare with ordinary hard drives, this would be four to five times faster. Discounters (like are charging around $350 to $400.




   This is a SATA drive, meaning that it plugs into a Serial ATA port. The "ATA" part of the acronym stands for Advanced Technology Attachment, and we might as well get used to these letters because almost all new computers come with SATA sockets for this kind of drive. They run faster, transfer data faster and, if the Barracuda is any example, are completely silent.




   An external version of the 500GB drive will be available in a month or two and connects to a USB or Firewire port. That means it will work with either PC or Mac. As is usual with external disk drives, expect it to cost around $50 more. For right now, you can get a 400GB external drive for around $310. That's big enough to hold 36 seasons of a half-hour TV show. Seagate's somewhat difficult-to-navigate Web site can be found at




Kid Stuff for Less



 Merriweather Farm



   We recently ran two new children's programs about farming, both carrying the imprint of tractor maker John Deere. We weren't bothered by the product tie-in, but we were bothered by the price: $20 for Windows and Mac. You can do much better.


   The John Deere programs were all right, for ages 3 to 6, but nothing special. On the other hand, one of our all-time favorite programs for young children is "Fatty Bear's Birthday Surprise," which came out several years ago from Humongous. It's for ages 3 to 8, but we thought it was fun for any age, and we found it for $2.


 Fatty Bear


   Humongous no longer exists, having been purchased and absorbed by Atari, but its programs for young children were absolutely great. We found them by searching and a lot of them were at, some still in their original packaging. We found them all over the Web, however, for $1 and up. We think these programs were, and still are, without equal for young children, and they run on both Windows and Macintosh