|February 2003, Week 1 --
New Hope for the Headless
It's "InfoSelect, ver. 7," from MicroLogic.
We've written about this Windows program several times over the years and what's interesting about it is that it's a random access database. I think of it as an information manager for the terminally disorganized. Like many journalists, that fits me.
You can enter information on any subject, in any order, and the program will retrieve it in a second or two using a key word search. In other words if the only thing you can remember about a company was that you met a guy at a trade show in Bangkok, you can recover that piece of information simply by typing Bangkok. If there are several items with that word, you have at least narrowed the search by quite a bit.
If you're only partially disorganized, InfoSelect has set categories (you can create more) for commonly used lists, like names and addresses. Drop in notes, ideas, your plan to conquer the world, chunks of text from web sites, business forms, sales orders, etc. Just about anything goes. InfoSelect will also store images, and the new version lets you edit them as well.
Other new features include a calendar, both for scheduling and to prompt you with reminders of upcoming events and things to do. The email function allows the user to send to groups as well as individuals and the mail can be encrypted and checked for proof of delivery. The email controls work with Outlook and Netscape. You can browse the web without leaving InfoSelect and save pages as you wish.
A new feature that does nothing for me but is a must for some people, is a built-in outliner. I'm never sure what to make "A" and "B" and my high school teacher told me I always had to have more than one heading and more than one item under each subhed or it wasn't an outline. This made no sense to me and I've never created an outline since.
The heart of InfoSelect 7 is a lightning fast search engine; that's the widget in the works that makes the wheels go round. The program is $150 as a download from MicroLogic www.miclog.com or $160 as a CD; it's $100 as an upgrade from earlier versions. There is a Palm Pilot version for $70.
Putting a label on it
I know this doesn't pencil out, as they say in the real estate racket, but I really like label printers. It doesn't pencil out because it's hard to justify paying $140 for a device that does the same thing as your printer. What I like is that it does it so much easier.
The list prices for Dymo's new "LabelWriter" range from $140-$220. The lower priced unit handles four-line address labels up to 1.5 inches wide, at eight labels per minute. The high-end unit handles labels up 2.3 inches prints four times faster. The software allows you to use lists copied from Microsoft Word, Excel or any list using data separated by commas, which is a common delineator for databases.
LabelWriter is a thermal printer, so it's silent. The low-end model connects to the PC through a USB port; the others can use USB or serial ports. More info at www.dymo.com.
"Movie Works Deluxe" is a program remarkable for its simplicity. You get most of the effects and editing tools of an expensive, full-scale film editing program and it's easy to use. You can move scenes around, add text, music and other effects and create animations.
The program has been a big hit with everyone from business to schools and personal users. You can create slide show presentations or complete "QuickTime" movies and save them to videotape and CDs for later play. Output also can be directed to the web as streaming video.
Version 5.21 is the latest, containing more than 300 megabytes of royalty-free clips to add to your own productions if you wish. The company estimates the learning time at about two hours, which seems right. Movie Works Deluxe works with both Windows and Macintosh; price runs around $120 from discount dealers. Web: www.movieworks.com.
-- www.punoftheday.com How about: "A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion." Or: "The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small, medium at large." Are we groaning yet. Puns are meant to be received with groans. None the less, we find them amusing.
-- www.punpunpun.com More in this jugular vein: "When salt and pepper say 'Hi,' are they passing on season greetings?"
-- www.workinghumor.com Not puns but clever remarks from clever people. For instance: Albert Einstein -- "Sit with a pretty girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That's relativity."
Interesting Kid Stuff
-- "JumpStart Languages," for ages 3-6, Win/Mac; $20 from Knowledge Adventure. www.education.com.
I know you can't learn a language from a computer program but you can certainly learn some words and simple structure. Childhood is the best time to do it and this program takes the child through a make believe world fair. They can visit different pavilions to learn some Spanish, French, Japanese or English, and learn something of the culture that goes with those tongues.
-- "Liberty's Kids," ages 8-12, Win/Mac; $25 from <www.learningcompany.com>. Learn about the American Revolution in an animated adventure starring the player as a reporter who interviews leading figures and ordinary people as the action proceeds.
NOTE: Readers can search nearly four years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.