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     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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January 2000, Week 3 --All the News that's Fit to Sprint

 

   OmniViewer puts a news ticker on your computer. As you're working, a narrow banner of headlines runs across the top or bottom of the screen. You can have more than one headline banner going at once.

 

   The range of subjects can be wide or you can set your own search topic. Whenever anything interesting goes by you can see a brief summary of the news by positioning your cursor over that headline. The headlines are moving fairly slowly. If you click on the headline the full story pops up along with the web site that carries it. Yahoo pops up most often.

 

  You must be online for this to work. So if you're going to monitor a topic throughout the day you'll have to be online all day. Graphics and ads are automatically removed from the articles, which speeds the downloads and the printing if you want a printout. Not all news services and news sites are covered by any means; there are certainly limits to this kind of wideband monitoring but the results are pretty good.

 

   OmniViewer is available as a download for Windows for $35 from www.digiportal.com. They offer a two-week free trial.

 

Easy web graphics

 Ulead JavaRazor

 

 

   "Ulead Java Razor" does buttons. It also does special effects like rippling water and scrolling text banners that can be added to your web site without programming.

   These are Java "applets" -- tiny pieces of Java programming that create the actions and special effects. Making these applets can be a royal pain in the gluteus maximus, so it's nice to have it all done here.

   Java Razor contains two primary Java applets of its own: "button.applet" and "animation.applet," which reduces the process of making special effects to a matter of a few minutes or even seconds. If you want to go further the company has other specialized tools: "GIF Animator," "Web Razor Pro" and "Cool 3D," all of which are well known to graphics professionals and widely used for the creation of web site graphics.

 

   Java Razor is $60 for Windows. Ulead phone info: 800-858-5323 or 310-523-9393; e-mail: info@ulead.com; web: www.ulead.com.

 

Easy photo editing

 

 Adobe Photo Deluxe 4.0

   The latest version 4 of Adobe's "Photo Deluxe, home edition" finally pulls the program together in the way I felt it should have been done in the first place.

   Instead of going through a series of iterations to fix flaws in a photograph, you draw a loop around the part that needs fixing and the program just works on that. There's a built-in calendar program to turn any picture into several styles of calendars, 350 templates for other publications and a thousand pieces of clip art to dress up invitations or cards. You can combine photos, change the lighting and change backgrounds.

 

   The program has a photo filing system and catalog and a slide strip can be used for quick selection. You can add some entertainment value to a picture by automatically turning it into a jigsaw puzzle, which can then be posted to the web.

 

   Photo Deluxe is $49 for Windows 95/98/NT. Phone info: 800-888-6293 or 408-536-6000; web: www.adobe.com.

 

Internuts

 

-- www.freemarkets.com  Online auctions for buyers of industrial parts, raw materials and services. If you need 300 tons of coal or some cold-rolled steel, this could be the place.

-- www.nextag.com  An interesting idea: haggling over the Internet. Pick a product and the site lists prices from various vendors. You come back with a counter offer. If it's acceptable someone will e-mail you and you can then say yes or no. It's a way to haggle without confronting anyone.

-- www.crayola.com  A marvelous new site for children, the best we've ever seen. It's from Binney & Smith, the makers of Crayola crayons. Sensible, educational, fun and creative; a child could happily spend months in here.

-- www.filmfestivals.com  All the film festivals you can eat. Where they are, when to go and what's happening there.

-- www.zdnet.com/zdtv/camfest/  The Second Annual Cam Film Festival on the web is accepting entries until the end of March for short films made with home video cameras and web cams.

 

 

-- www.experts.com  Where to find an expert on just about anything. Reporters are familiar with this kind of list, which they often receive in the mail from Universities and foundations that want the publicity to be gained from having their people interviewed. I always liked Mark Twain's definition of an expert as "Someone who lives more than 50 miles away."

-- www.gurunet.com  The site bills itself as a built-in expert assistant for anything you may be reading. Click on a word in the text and if gurunet is active in your computer it brings up more information on that word. It's not a dictionary. Seems particularly useful for business news articles.

 

Entertainment

 Bugs Bunny Lost in Time

 

   "Bugs Bunny: Lost In Time," $20, for the PC, from Infogrames. Bugs falls into a time machine and moves through six eras. There's more game than education here but it's good fun with a familiar cartoon character. Web: www.infogrames.net.

   NOTE: Readers can search more than three 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.