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     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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January 2002, Week 1 -- PC to PC, a Moving Story

   

  PC Sync

   A frequent question is how to move programs and files from one computer to another. The grand old name in this area is LapLink www.laplink.com and they have two new programs that cover the ground Don't worry: you don't need both.

   "PCsync" is the most useful one for individuals and small business users. The new version transfers files across all Windows platforms (some transfer programs don't) and has a feature that allows you to transfer files though an Internet link. File transfer has been this company's main business since the glaciers covered Minnesota and they are the acknowledged leader in it.

 

   The new buzz word is "migration" rather than file transfer. Because the old problem with transferring program files was that necessary registry links in Windows didn't come along with the transfer. In "migration" everything that's needed is brought to the new machine. In short, you should be able to work with your programs on the new machine just as you did on the old.

 

   PCsync sells for $66-$79, depending on the seller, and comes with a serial cable to connect two computers. A USB cable can be ordered for an additional $20 and is worth it, as you will see from the numbers below.

  LapLink

   Transferring 500 MB (megabytes) of data -- text, music, pictures, whatever -- by 56k modem and phone line takes 34 hours. Offline with a LapLink serial cable it takes 3 hours; with a LapLink parallel cable it takes 1.5 hours; with a LapLink USB cable it takes 14 minutes. USB-2, a new faster protocol for data transfer is slowly being implemented and should be common next year, increasing USB speed by 20 times.

  LapLink's other new program is Laplink Gold 11.0, and it is designed for Windows XP. Earlier versions of LapLink will not work with XP. The new version is downward compatible, as they say, and works with earlier Windows. It comes with two cables for transferring data, one parallel, one serial; again, USB costs extra. All LapLink versions allow you to transfer files and control another computer from a remote location. Price range is $137-$169.

 

The handyman's publishing kit

  Picture It

   It's not often we feel this way, but it's time to go nuts over a Microsoft product.

   The one that got us is "Picture It! Publishing Platinum," a long name for a great new Windows program. The $55 package comes with five CDs of fantastic photo editing power and 15,000 templates for producing business cards, brochures, letterheads, calendars, greeting cards, invitations, certificates, newsletters, product labels and on into the night. There are 150,000 pieces of clip art to print and 1,500 ready-made animations to post to the web or put into presentations. A smaller version, with a mere 10,000 project templates and a few less editing tools, lists for $35. Tutorials teach you how to do all the projects.

 

   We reviewed the first version of Picture It! a few years ago and it was nothing much. My how thing have moved along; this one is great. New images can be downloaded from the web site http://photos.msn.com and products emblazoned with your photos or logo can be ordered if you wish.

 

Sites for screen savers

  

 

   You can get free screen savers that flip through some beautiful pictures at http://daily.webshots.com. The surfing scenes are startling, for example; try to figure out where the camera was placed.

   A much more extensive site is www.cybrosia.com/casamerica, which gives you an eclectic choice of classical artists like Vermeer, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Toulouse Lautrec and others. The pictures are displayed as slide shows and the sets are free for seven days, then $13 to buy. Some are permanently free, however, like a slide show of Pre-Raphaelite painters.

Internuts

 

   www.stupid.com  A wonderful site full of stupid stuff you can buy. Two plastic birds singing "I've Got You, Babe" in a duet costs $25. Then there's the tap-dancing flamingo that plays jingle bells, a singing blender for the kitchen, bumper stickers for your sneakers, a wind-up walking sushi, and other "must have" items of bad taste. You can also have a stupid joke sent to your mailbox every day. How about a political button that reads "Peace: something to shoot for."

 

  www.ifoundaduck.com This all started when British novelist Christian Cook released 500 rubber ducks into the Thames and they floated out to sea. People finding the ducks report their location, time and date. Each duck has an I.D. number and the web site address around its neck. Duck one was picked up in Florida, after having traveled 9,449 kilometers at a speed of 2.2 kph. Be on the lookout. (Note: The City of Chicago holds a rubber duck race out to Lake Michigan every year.)

 

Games for girls (and everybody)

  Nancy Drew: The Final Scene

   "Nancy Drew: The Final Scene," ages 10 and up, Windows; from HerInteractive www.herinteractive.com. This mystery series is great. There is no violence but plenty of mystery as Nancy tries to discover the location of a friend who has been kidnapped by a gang of preservationists that wants to keep an old theater from being torn down. Pure fun.

   "Cinderella's Dollhouse," ages 5 and up, Win/Mac; Disney www.disneyinteractive.com. Young girls can decorate six rooms of a dollhouse with a nearly endless variety of furnishings and accessories. Dolls can then be animated and move about the house.

 

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 bobschwab@oncomp.com or bobschwab@aol.com.