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     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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July 2006, Week 2 -- It's an Odd Name, But It's Hot

 


   Ewido is a German program that is currently the best you can get for detecting and removing malicious software from your computer. It comes in paid and free versions, and user forums are full of praise for this program.

 

 

 Ewido

   Ewido detects so-called "Trojans" (named for the famous Trojan horse), which are programs that masquerade as legitimate applications but then transmit your private information to their maker. The worst kind claims to remove viruses but actually infects your machine with new viruses, or creates a "back door" that gives remote users access to your system. (We get lots of offers of free anti-virus software, by the way, from locations that raise our collective eyebrows a couple of inches, and we do not pass those along to you. Take care you don't answer online offers you're not sure of.)

 

 

 

   Ewido Anti-Spyware 4.0 costs $30 for a one-year license from www.ewido.com. If you download the 15-day trial version, it's not a demo like many freebies, but actually removes the spyware, adware, Trojans, keyloggers and worms. It also tells you what's running in the background (usually junk), and if you don't like it, you can kill it. There's also a shredder for complete file removal and deletion.

 

 

 

A Friendly Alarm

 

 

 Zone Alarm

 

 

 

 

   ZoneAlarm has a famous free firewall. We last wrote about it five years ago and haven't done it since because everyone knows about it. After all, it's been downloaded 35 million times.

 

   A firewall protects your computer from enemy intrusion. Zone Alarm's freebie is one of the best, and you can't beat the price. Building on that reputation, ZonLabs has upgraded its set of protective programs to Internet Security Suite 6.5. This contains a firewal, anit-virus, anti-pop-up, parental controls, email security, wireless-hacking prevention, and lots of extras. Early opinion from users: Terrific!

 

   You have to put it in "game mode" if you want to play games, and it's very conscientious. We had to go to game mode so we could play Scrabble. It continued to protect us from known malicious threats, but stopped bugging us about "gray area" intrusions -- things that aren't in the ZoneAlarm database of known problems.

 

 

 

   A good example of that is our MediaBee calendar program. It goes out on the Internet to bring us the latest news headlines, and ZoneAlarm would normally let us know it was doing that. (You can tell ZoneAlarm to always allow or deny a program access in the future.)

 

 

 

   Among the things we liked best about the new ZoneAlarm suite is the new identity theft protection center. This asks you to type information you never want to share with other programs or Web sites. So your Social Security number, credit card, driver's license info, etc., will never leave the machine unless you specifically give permission.

 

 

 

   Other spyware programs will work right alongside the ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite, but anti-virus programs will not. This is true with other protection utilities as well. Different anti-virus programs cause conflict, but having more than one spyware program is useful because they each tend to find some problems the others do not.

 

 

 

   ZoneAlarm's Internet Security Suite 6.5 is $50 from www.zonelabs.com. The original ZoneAlarm firewall program is still free and automatically protects you against known intrusions. Like the new suite, the free version doesn't pop up with questions every second as earlier versions did. When it dropped the nagging, it picked us up as users.

 

 

 

A Very Nice Small Scanner

 

 

 Optic Slim

 

 

 

 

   A new scanner from Plustek looks perfect for carrying in a briefcase or leaving on the desk. It's slightly longer than the width of a standard sheet of paper and an inch thick. It weighs only 10 ounces, and that's the whole thing.

 

   The scanner plugs into a USB port and needs no extra power supply. We find that many so-called portable products come with fairly heavy power transformers that you have to lug around with them -- and the makers never mention those power supplies when they list the weight of the product. This one has no extra pieces; 10 ounces is it.

 

   The Plustek OpticSlim M12 sells for around $130 at www.plustek.com. The quality was good, and it was easy to use; just insert paper and press "scan." The default scanning resolution is 200 dpi (dots per inch), but you can move that up to 600 dpi for very fine images.

 

 

 

   There's a second button labeled "custom," and if you press that, the scan is done as a PDF file, very handy for immediate e-mailing. The scanner also comes with ABBYY FineReader 5.0, an OCR program that reads scanned text. We have run this program in the past and tested it against many others in the same field, and it always came out best.

 

 

 

Books

   eBay Price Guide

 

 

   "The eBay Price Guide" by Julia Wilkinson; $30 from www.nostarch.com.

 

   The author has done an enormous amount of work here. There are 556 pages of fine print, listing high and low selling prices for what must be tens of thousands of items. (We didn't count them.) It will come as no surprise that basketball jerseys signed by Michael Jordan sell for around $900 or a wood figure of Superman for $750. How about a grilled cheese sandwich that purportedly looked like the Virgin Mary? It went for $28,000. Other grilled cheese sandwiches sold for less; an image of radio talk show host Howard Stern went for $3.25.

 

 

 

   What are some of the highest prices paid for things sold on eBay? Well, there was $4.9 million for a Gulfstream II jet plane, and close to $1 million for a 2003 Ferrari Enzo. Car sales on eBay run around $10 billion a year.

 


 

 

NOTE: Readers can search several years of columns at the "On Computers" Web site: www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at bobschwab@aol.com and Joy Schwabach at joydee@oncomp.com.