Bob and Joy
                                      
 
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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July 2006, Week 3 -- An Internut Finder


   If you go to www.stumbleupon.com, you can use the "stumble" button to take a random walk through the Internet. Every time you click, you go to a new Web site.

  We first stumbled on a site that lets you construct faces, like a police department "identikit." It's German, and the address is http://flashface.ctapt.de.

  www.elemanyak.com/chelov.swf is a remarkable and very amusing stick figure animation site.

  Make a kaleidoscope on-screen at www.permadi.com.

  Do you like to pop bubble wrap? From Helsinki we got www.danpat.fi/janne/flash/kuplamuovi.swf. Sheets of bubble wrap appear on the screen. Click to pop, with sound effects.

 

     Help! Stop us before we click again!
   
  Google Trends
   
     We thought this was pretty interesting: If you go to www.google.com/trends, you can find search frequency numbers and points of origin for any key word. We typed "computers," for example, and up came a list of the top 10 cities where people were searching on that word. Five of them were in Australia. We tried "Skype," the Internet phone service, as a search term, and the top four search locations were all in Poland. Go figure.

 

 

 

Drive, She Said

 

 

Store-It Drive

   We just got a new pocket-size Store-It drive with Joy's name and phone number stamped on the back. That was impressive, but not as impressive as the button on top that you simply push to backup your files or whole disk drive.
 
   At least that was the theory. The tiny 60-gigabyte drive comes with Retrospect's Backup Express program. It worked great when Joy used it to back up her My Documents folder in Windows. But when she tried to back up her whole hard drive, it looked like the road was still under construction.
 
     It took 17 hours to back up 31 gigabytes, and the software reported a whopping 2,589,525 errors. (Yes, those are millions.) When we then asked for a system restore, it turned out that no files had been saved and there was nothing available to restore.
   
     We then tried backing up the same hard drive using Acronis' new True Image Workstation, which just came in for review. It backed up the whole 31 gigabytes in 22 minutes, and there were no errors. The software costs $80. But a "home" version of True Image costs just $50 and worked just as fast; however, it has fewer features.
   

Acronis True Image Workstation

   A nice feature of True Image Workstation is that, for a $30 license fee, it can back up a complete hard drive and restore it to any other Windows computer, even if that computer has a different version of the operating system and different hardware.
 
   You wouldn't want to do this to a new computer, because it erases the new drive and imprints the backup onto it. But for companies that want a quick way to put consistent backups on different desktops and laptops, this would be valuable. Info at www.acronis.com.
 
     Meanwhile, back at the new pocket Store-It drive: We loved the drive, but hated the software. The drive requires no power supply, drawing its current from the computer's USB ports. It comes in capacities of 40 to 120 gigabytes, with prices ranging from $100 to $240.
   
     Custom printing on the case costs an extra $10, and if you include the "lost and found" option, it lists a company Web site and the words "reward if found." If you lose it and the finder calls it in, the company will dole out a reward and ship it back to you at no charge. More info at: www.pexagontech.com.
   
  PictureMate

 

 

 

 

 
A New PictureMate Printer
 
   When we reviewed the first Epson PictureMate printer we liked it so much we bought two of them. Joy gave one to her sister and uses the other to take to her PEO women's club meetings. She can take pictures of the meeting and print them out right there.
 
   PictureMate is very portable and the new Deluxe Viewer edition has a screen that lets you see the picture before printing. You can make editing changes, as well. Printing is also faster -- about one a minute.
 
   Like the earlier version, PictureMate Deluxe can be used with or without a computer and accepts almost any size digital camera card. The Deluxe version can run off batteries. List price is $200, and you can find more info at www.epson.com.
   
  Hot Pix
   
     There are too many online photo services, and boy, are they getting competitive. Hewlett Packard sent us an e-mail to say that its Snapfish Web site (www.snapfish.com) will provide 30 free prints and free shipping till Aug. 31 if you type in the code: "hpfreeship."
   
  Books

  Statistics Hacks

 

 

 
   "Statistics Hacks" by Bruce Frey; $30 from www.oreilly.com.
 
   Few subjects are more fun than statistics. Standard deviations and reversions to the mean are things of eternal beauty, as well as potentially lucrative. Among the subjects covered in this delightful work are using Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet to predict the outcome of football games, and a large section on playing winning poker. The author covers not only determining "pot odds" but also "implied pot odds."

 


 

 

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.