Bob and Joy
                                      
 
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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January 2006, Week 3 -- Halt! What's the Password?

Roboform


   Who can remember all those passwords? The average user has more than a dozen. We have fewer than that and still have to write them on the wall.

 

   Is there any hope for the password impaired? Well, yes. Pass2Go is a free program that manages, you guessed it: passwords. Pass2Go is designed for flash drives, sometimes called thumb drives. It's useful when you want to use a guest computer. The flash drive has your password and login information, and you don't have to enter it with the guest computer's keyboard. Another free program, called simply RoboForm, is meant to be used on your own computer.
   
     You start by downloading the software from the RoboForm Web site: www.roboform.com. From then on, every time you go to a site that requires a password, you have the option of having the program remember that information. This is then stored in a master file that is encrypted and can be made available only with a password.
   
     You can go to any previously visited Web site just by choosing it from a drop-down menu. When you take this route, you are automatically signed in at the site.
   
     Both Pass2Go and RoboForm can also be used to fill out forms. For example, a lot of Web sites ask for your address, phone number, and sometimes age and other information. You can fill it in once, and RoboForm will then do it automatically for other sites. This is especially useful for stupid Web sites that make you start all over again if you missed a line. We've seen lots of those.
   

 

The program also puts an area called "Safe Notes" on your browser's toolbar. You would use this to store other guarded information like lock combinations, credit card numbers, software activation codes, etc.

 

 

     RoboForm is free in a limited version, or $30 in a professional version.
   
  Cheap Photo Editing
   
 Photo Story 3

 Picasa 2

  

   Photo editing is a hot topic, and we get reader requests about it every day. A lot of what you can do in this area is available for free. Here are some easy paths to take:
 
   To make a slideshow, you can go to www.microsoft.com and download Photo Story 3. For removing red eye, cropping pictures, adding captions and other basic tools, there is EasyShare from www.kodak.com and Picasa from www.google.com. These are also free.
 
 Easy Share    But if you want to get really serious about editing and organizing photos, there are three packages that vie for first place in our hearts and minds. They are Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006, Adobe Photoshop Elements 4 and Ulead's PhotoImpact 11.
   

Digital Image Suite

 

 

   Digital Image Suite 2006 can be found for $88 from Amazon. One of its best features is "smart erase," which can get rid of flaws and even whole objects just by drawing a line and clicking the smart erase button.
 
   The popular Adobe Photoshop Elements 4 can be had for $55 through bizrate.com now. It's best known for photo organizing. It has great tutorials that walk you through all kinds of editing tricks and special effects. If you have trouble following, you can simply click on a button that says "do this for me."
 
   Ulead PhotoImpact has long been the photo editing program we use most. The new version 11 is absolutely tops at masking -- the ability to remove an object from one scene and move it into another. It also has the best "one-button fix" of any photo editing program we've tried. The program is just $50 from Ulead's own Web site: www.ulead.com.
   
  Happy Birthday, Ben!
   

Ben Franklin

   January 17 would be Ben Franklin's 300th birthday if he hadn't had the poor taste to die. In honor of his memory, the place to go for all things Franklin is http://ben.clusty.com.
 
   This is a recently created subset in our favorite search engine: Clusty. Almost any search term you type in will yield something about this founding father. As author of Poor Richard's Almanac, Franklin was well-known for proverbs and aphorisms. You get a proverb at the top of the page for many search terms, or you can click the proverbs tab and see them all. Did you know Ben Franklin started the first fire insurance company?
 
   Franklin was one of the most important movers of the American Revolution, and this is a fun way to review his thoughts and life. He was world famous for his experiments on lightning and electricity, and when he was ambassador to France it was widely rumored in Paris that he carried a lightning bolt in a little container in his pocket.
   Head First HTML

 

 

 

 

 

 
Books
 
   "Head First HTML," by Elisabeth Freeman and Eric Freeman; $35 from www.oreilly.com.
   Who would have thought that a book about HTML (hypertext markup language) would be witty? But witty it is, and not only fun to read but by far the best book we have ever seen on the HTML code that controls Web sites.
   You can use this book to create a Web site using just the tools that come with Windows -- no special Web site-making program required. You can see the results in your browser, without having to actually publish it to the Web. A great book. The authors, Eric and Elisabeth Freeman, take you by the hand and waltz you around the room.