Bob and Joy
                                      
 
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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January 2006, Week 4 -- Hanging out at the HyperOffice

Hyper Office

 

 

   Small businesses that can't afford to spend thousands of dollars on a Microsoft Exchange Server, the software to go with it and a full-time tech specialist have a couple of cheaper options.

 

   The cheapest, of course, is to simply collaborate on documents over the Web, e-mailing them back and forth. But sharing documents in real time is better. We found a service called HyperOffice that provides a master server and technical support for just $6 to $9 a month for each user.
   
     It lets you share calendars, project schedules, spreadsheets and all other Microsoft Office files. You can collaborate in an office, among widely separated colleagues or on the road. Because there is a copy of whatever you do on your own local machine as well as on the Web server, there is no need for backups.
   
     To begin, you open a special HyperOffice Web site as a Web folder in your browser. In Internet Explorer, that means you check off a box that says "open as Web folder." Then you just drag any Office document into the folder to upload it.
   
     When you log in to your online workspace -- which is customizable with your company's logo -- you see a lot of familiar icons. On the left, you have a panel for your mail, calendar, documents, contacts, tasks, links, notes and reminders. In the center, you have an area for today's news, messages, schedules and other folders.
   
     You can check the schedules of your co-workers and send them an invitation to a meeting. You can let them "vote" on a proposal. You can create special areas of access for customers, so that when they log on, they see only the sales brochures you want them to see.

 

 

 

   The company offers a 30-day free trial. Setup is $40 if you decide to sign up, but that includes configuring the site to suit your needs. Works with Mac or PC. Read all about it at www.hyperoffice.com.

 

 

  Clipping Service
clipmarks  
   The free Clipmarks software makes cutting something from a Web page as easy as cutting it out of a newspaper. Go to www.clipmarks.com.
 
     The program puts a "clip this" icon on your browser's toolbar. Click that icon and then click somewhere on the Web page and you'll see an orange frame around the picture or item. The frame is expandable. Click when it covers what you want to clip, then click "save it," which is another choice on your toolbar.
   
     The clip is saved on a Web site immediately created to hold your clips, which can be accessed from anywhere you can connect to the Web. The site is password protected and searchable, and the clips can be e-mailed, printed or made public for anyone else to browse on your site.
   
  Internuts
   
  www.johnhaller.com: This site has free portable versions of popular programs, including the new Open Office 2.01, which is similar to Microsoft Office and can work with Office files. It takes up just 75 megabytes. Put the program on a flash drive or other portable device, and you can work on documents on a public computer without leaving a trace.

Purses

 
www.bagborroworsteal.com: Louis Vuitton, eat your heart out. Right here you can rent designer handbags from Louis, Hermes, Coach, Fendi, Gucci, Kate Spade, etc. Membership for what the site calls "trendsetters" starts at $20 a month, plus $10 shipping and handling for each bag. You can choose from a selection of more than 1,000 bags. If you sign up for the "princess" level, whatever that means, you can choose from 1,200. If you move up to the "diva" level, you get another 600 choices, way beyond those that any old princess might carry.
   
  Going for a Drive
   

NAS Drive Kit -Storage Device

   ADS Technologies has a network drive case, the NAS Drive Kit, for a little more than $100. This is right around the same price as a drive case from Network Solutions that we wrote about a couple weeks ago. The important difference between them is the ADS drive case will accept ordinary IDE drives, the most common type, while the Network Solutions case requires the new SATA drives. In either instance the connections use an Ethernet cable to make the drive into a common storage place for all the computers on a network; this could be for either home or office.
   
     You can get some pretty big storage this way. A 500-gigabyte drive, which is huge storage, can be purchased for around $340 these days; a 300-gig drive can be had for as little as $120 to $150 from discounters like pricegrabber.com. That would mean you could have a nice network drive for $250.
   
     The ADS network storage drive kit comes with software to turn into an Internet file server. More info at www.adstech.com.
   
  Books
   

Windows Hacks and Mods

   "Windows XP Hacks & Mods for Dummies" by Woody Leonhard; $25 from www.dummies.com.
 
   The easiest way to get a list of files is to drop back into DOS, the operating system that ran PCs for years before Windows came along and still lies buried inside. Moving right along here, the author notes that he's never seen a registry cleaner that was worth a darn, so don't worry about cleaning the registry because it's not going to make your computer run faster anyway.
 
     The author also has little faith in antivirus programs, and recommends a free one called AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition (get it at www.download.com). Which brings up another tip: If you're using Internet Explorer or Firefox as your Web browser, just type in the main part of a Web site address -- "download," for instance -- and then hit control-return; the browser will automatically fill in the rest.
   
     The author hosts a Web site providing solutions to many Windows problems; check it out at www.askwoody.com. Or just type "askwoody" and hit control-return.
 

 

NOTE: Readers can search several years of columns at the "On Computers" Web site: www.oncomp.com or at www.uexpress.com/oncomputers.