Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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July 2000, Week 2 -- Hey! It's a Plan

 Business Plans


   Compaq Computer Corporation was started with a business plan written on a paper napkin, but venture capitalists and banks usually want something more substantial these days.

   If you're at a loss on how to make a profit, try one of these business plan templates in "Office Ready Business Plans" from Canon. That's Canon as in the computer, printer and camera company, but they also do some pretty good software. The templates do not have the "cut and dried" look that one might expect. They can be made to look as fresh as your new ideas.


   The templates are designed to work with Microsoft Office 97 or Office 2000 and they use both Word and the Excel spreadsheet to pull together a financial plan and mission statement. You can add pictures and even a "walk through" wizard to take the reader through the plan as you want them to see it. A cautionary note: Most business plans are fantasy, and most investors know it, so it's best not to get too fancy with this stuff.


   Office Ready Business Plans is $90 for Windows. Phone info: 714-438-3159; web:


Install this


 InstallShield Express

   One of the most familiar sights any PC user ever sees is the phrase that begins "InstallShield is now setting up ...." Almost every time we install a program, its entry into the system is guided by InstallShield. If you are a software developer, you pretty much have to have it.

   The latest version, "InstallShield Express 3.0," handles installations and upgrades either from disk or online through the Internet. The interface has been redesigned to look and feel like Microsoft Outlook, and there are a series of check boxes to keep you in line along the way to a finished installation setup. There's an easy wizard that leads your through installations using the popular Visual Basic language.


   This new version also integrates with Windows own "Installer." This lets it take full advantage of the "install/uninstall" feature in the Windows 95/98 control panel. More importantly, it lets the system roll back to its original state if there is a failed installation and will automatically repair corrupted files.


   The list price on InstallShield is $249 for a new package, or $149 for an upgrade; discounters will mark this down quite a bit. Phone info: 800-374-4353 or 847-240-9111; e-mail:; web:


Leisure pioneers: gone fishing


   Years ago, Nobel Prize winning economist Friedrich Hayek noted that the rich served a useful purpose simply by being rich enough to afford the technological novelties that later became the basis for new industries. They could be viewed as "leisure pioneers."


   Today's leisure pioneers require little more than some loose cash to enjoy many of the fruits of technology. Take golf or trout fishing as a couple of examples. DeLorme's "Topo USA: Fly-Fishing Edition" combines topographical maps of the U.S. with "Trout Unlimited's Guide to America's 100 Best Trout Streams." If they expand it to Canada later there should be at least twice as many.


   The same company's "Golf Digest's Places to Play Travel Planner," combines their "Map n' Go" travel planner with Golf Digest Magazine's critical reviews and cost information for 6,000 public and private courses in the U.S.


   Both CDs are for Windows. The fly fishing guide covers trout and salmon streams and is $120; the golf guide is $40. Phone info: 207-846-7000; web:




--  Here's something new and different. It's a venture capital meeting place, but sponsored by General Electric, one of the largest corporations in the world. Entrpreneurs seeking funding are invited to present their ideas and business plans to investors looking to bankroll a new business and maybe strike it rich. You have to be fairly rich to start with, since the minimum investment is $100,000. The minimum entry funding sought by new ventures is set at $750,000. The idea is obviously to get in on an initial public offering before there even is an initial public offering. The bothersome thought that keeps hanging in the back of my mind is -- if it's a really good new business idea, why is GE making it available to outside investors instead of financing it themselves, which they have done with many other ventures?


-- They're offering to register your domain name for $18, or $13.50 per name for a 10-pack. That's way under the typical price. (We paid $90 a couple of years ago.)  The domain name monopoly held by Network Solutions was canceled by the government last year.


-- Provides the electronic equivalent of a shredder for deleted computer files. By now, most people are probably aware that deleting a file does not actually remove it from a disk, but simply removes its file name; the contents can be recovered by anyone with a minimum of computer knowledge and a file recovery program, such as Norton Utilities. An electronic shredder overwrites the deleted files with gibberish, so they can no longer be recovered.


-- Political jokes. Not always funny, some of them old and tired, but then there are those few gems of amusement.


  NOTE: Readers can search more than three years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at  or