Bob and Joy
                                      
 
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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January 2004, Week 1 -- The Invisible Man

 

 

 Anonymizer

 

 

   You can keep your identity hidden when you browse the web using a program called "The Anonymizer Privacy Manager," available at www.anonymizer.com.

   We've mentioned an earlier version of this program a couple of years ago, but it seems even more appropriate now, with so many pieces of spyware being tagged onto people's system without their knowledge. A one-year subscription costs $30.

   Using Anonymizer is like having an unlisted phone number. It keeps your Internet address private and stops spammers from harvesting your email address from your browser. It blocks cookies, pop-up ads, malicious scripts and tracking spiders downloaded to your computer.

 

   One clue that you have been tagged with spyware is your system suddenly seems slower, especially when browsing the Internet. Excessive pop-up ads appear, your start page changes, your browser crashes, a new tool bar appears on your browser. These are usually sure signs that somebody you don't know is rummaging through your digital house. We have a fix for that, coming up next.

 

The Visible Spy

 

 Spy Hunter

   One of the best programs for finding spyware on your Windows system is "SpyBot, Search and Destroy," which is free from www.download.com.

   But SpyBot misses some spies. A search can also be done by Spy Hunter, which costs $30 from Enigma Executive Software Group www.enigmasoftwaregroup.com. This program worked all right for us, however, we have since received numerous reader complaints about this program. In a recent search of one of our hard drives, SpyBot found three pieces of spyware code lurking on our system. But when we ran Spy Hunter it found 19. You can download Spy Hunter and run it for free, but it will only tell you what spies it found. To remove those spies you have to purchase the program. Spy Hunter removes adware, cookies, internal pop-up programs, key loggers (that track your keystrokes) and spyware registry keys. They have a database of 193 computer parasites, which is updated regularly.

 

Backup and Be Good

  True Image

 

   Acronis has a new version of its great backup program, "True Image," which works with Win 95 and up.

 There are a couple of things to really like about this program, but one in particular answers a problem raised by many readers over the years. It's simply this: If your hard drive crashes but you have a backup, how do you restore the backup to a drive that you can't start? The answer with True Image is that it can reboot your Windows computer from its own backup system.  No recovery disk is needed; the system can be restored in a few minutes even if the original hard drive has become corrupted.

Other features to like:

 

-- True Image 7 makes a complete image of your original drive. You can take it anywhere and place your whole system on a new computer. When you travel you can rent one or use a vacant machine at a company office.

 

-- Incremental backups. That means you only have to back up the whole system once, and after that the backup only records changes.

 

-- You can continue working while True Image is making a clone of your entire system.

 

-- You can back up to another drive or to a hidden partition on the original drive. So, if you don't happen to have another drive handy, you can back up important files to a partition no one else can see, and keep them safe from either accidental erasure or prying eyes.

 

   True Image 7.0 is $50 from www.acronis.com. We found it for just $38 doing a search on Froogle www.froogle.com.

 

The Numbers Report

 

   A recent survey from the Radicati Group finds that a typical business user receives 81 email messages a day and sends out 29. The combination comes to a typical total of 9.6 megabytes.

 

   That's 9.6 million characters, or close to 10,000 pages of double-spaced type if the messages were all text. It is impossible to read that much in a day, whether coming in or going out or both. But the situation figures to get much worse: it is estimated by the same survey group that the total content will rise to an average of 46 megabytes of email a day in the next two years.

 

Books

 Virtual Humans

 

   "Virtual Humans, A Build It Yourself Kit," by Peter Plantec; $35, book and disk, Amacom Press www.amacombooks.org.

   Coming soon to a movie near you, as they say: virtual actors instead of live ones. They started by populating video games, becoming more realistic in appearance and action every year. The computer game "Final Fantasy" was made into a movie two years ago and featured only virtual actors. More such films are in the works. Virtual actors never complain, don't need stunt doubles and don't demand a share of the box office.

 

Camera Works After All

 

   We revisited the Concord, and we don't mean the supersonic airplane, and finally got it to work. This is the "Concord EyeQ Wireless" digital camera we wrote about a few weeks ago. It comes with a Bluetooth adapter that lets you send pictures to a receiver within a range of about 30 feet. One suggested use is for taking two-megapixels pictures -- higher resolution than picture cell phones -- and then sending that picture through your cell phone. Though at two megapixels the transmission is probably going to take awhile.

 

   We couldn't get it to work because we foolishly followed the quick start guide. Ignore the manual and push a button with a mysterious vertical line; Viola, as we say in our fractured French. The camera is $150-$160 from discounters.

 

NOTE: Readers can search past columns on our web site: www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob or Joy Schwabach at bobschwab@aol.com or joydee@oncomp.com.

 

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