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July 2002, Week 1 -- Getting Organized

 

 

 

Franklin Covey Planning Software

   A lot of business people use either DayTimer or the FranklinCovey Planner to plan their day and beyond. As a terminally disorganized journalist, I could never understand this craze, yet I've met plenty of business people who say they could not operate without it.

   DayTimer is a set of paper appointment sheets in a large leather wallet, but FranklinCovey comes both ways: paper and software. The new version 8.0 lets you color code similar tasks and appointments for quick reference, and in general has an interface that is easy to read and navigate. Your calendar of activities, tasks, contact, notes, etc., can be synchronized with virtually any Windows program and Palm handhelds.

 

   There's not much else to say about this product. You're either an organizer person or you're not. (I think the Wall Street Journal ran an article years ago about people who wouldn't think of leaving the house without their organizer.)

 

   FranklinCovey pricing is $80 for the boxed version, or $30 for the upgrade. If you go to their web site, however, they have an online outlet store where sometimes you can pick things up cheaper. Web site is www.franklincovey.com.

 

Making a web site

 

webeditor 5

   You wouldn't think there would be any more web sites to make or anyone who doesn't have one. But that must be the case because I see lots of ads from people who are more than willing to build your site. We had a quote of $16,000 from a "designer" willing to build our oncomp.com site to holds these columns, but we demurred and my wife built it in a couple of evenings with Microsoft FrontPage.

   There used to be a lot of programs to help you create your own site but you rarely see them now. Sierra had the easiest one we ever saw, and now I can't find it anywhere. A new entry is "Namo WebEditor 5" for Windows, from Jasc. The editors at CNET/ZDnet, the online computer products review service, went nuts over this and made it their editor's choice. We liked Namo too, but with reservations.

 

   The good news is that it comes with ready-made templates, is easy to use, has a nifty way of handling new pages and lets you do things on the side, like make photo albums. The bad news is there's no search function.

 

   This is a biggie in my book. Unless a web site is just a couple of pages, a visitor will want to search for a key word or topic. Namo WebEditor is $149 from the company and they sell a search engine to go with it for another $139. FrontPage costs $169 and comes with a search engine. It's no great shakes, as a few readers have pointed out, but it works. And it has the inestimable virtue of being free.

 

   All this inquiry into comparative features led us to look at other places to build your web site:

 

   Looking for the lost city of AcmeCity.com switched us to Warner Brothers, of all places, which then led to www.hometown.aol.com, which turned out to be a nice place. There we found a fairly rich set of templates and other tools to let anyone quickly and easily put together a web site. You don't have to be a member of AOL to use it and the "hometown" service will host it for free. The downside is they put ads on your site.

 

   Tripod, part of the Lycos search service www.tripod.lycos.com  and Geocities, part of Yahoo http://geocities.yahoo.com  both have a $5 minimum monthly charge, but do not put ads on your site.

 

Internuts

 

-- www.quackwatch.com  This site investigates bogus health claims, particularly herbs and elixirs sold through the mail or email. These sales pitches tend to have characteristics in common, so the site has ten rules to avoid being "quacked." You can search by topics, such as "colloidal silver," currently touted as a cure-all for 650 diseases.

-- www.xrefer.com  A British site that lets you search lots of reference books: The Oxford Companion to English Literature, The Compact American Dictionary of Computer Words, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, etc.

 

Books: Open windows

 

   Here are a handful of books to help solve the problems of Windows XP, the operating system that was supposed to have no problems.

Windows XP: the missing manual

-- "Windows XP, the Missing Manual," by David Pogue; $25, Pogue/O'Reilly www.missingmanuals.com. O'Reilly Press has a series of "Missing Manual" books, for Windows and Macintosh, and their purpose is to explain and amplify all the features that should have been in the manual when you first bought the system. They do a much better job of it than the companies who created the software in the first place. There's a reason for that but we don't have room for it here and I've beaten up on these companies enough today.

 

Windows XP in a Nutshell

 

-- "Windows XP in a Nutshell, a desktop quick reference," by Karp, O'Reilly and Mott; $30, O'Reilly www.oreilly.com. There's also an O'Reilly "Nutshell" series of other programs.

-- "Windows XP, Tips & Techniques," by Glenn and White; $40, Osborne www.osborne.com. Tip books are great for finding quick fixes. (You can also find lots of tips by going to the web sites for PC World Magazine www.pcworld.com, and PC Magazine www.pcmag.com).

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.