Bob and Joy
                                      
 
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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June 2002, Week 1 ---Your Global Position

    

 

 

 

   "Destinator" got the highest rating in a Pocket PC Magazine survey of GPS (Global Positioning System) systems, but not by much; Pocket CoPilot was close.

   This is a hot and growing area for the use of PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants), those little computers that look something like a large cell phone. Load in the proper software, aim the PDA at a satellite, and find out where you are. Oh, and one other thing, you need a receiver that can read the signals from the satellite.

   These things have become must-have for hikers, bikers, wilderness buffs and travelers. The whole package from Destinator costs $329 at ( www.destinator1.com). That doesn't include the PDA, without which you can't read the maps or display your position. Add another $600.

 

   The maker points out that they use the same mapping software as the GPS units that come with new Mercedes and cost 10 times as much. We checked with a local Mercedes dealer and the charge to add GPS to an existing car was $1500 to $2500, depending on the model. However GPS upgrades were not available for all years and models.

 

   The mapping software is made by NewTech in Chicago. You can use the very same software and get the same accuracy for nothing by logging onto the MapQuest web site www.mapquest.com. Of course you can't take it with you in your handheld computer but you can look up any location in North America and print out a map. The software is much better for driving directions than what you get in the travel CDs from Rand McNally, DeLorme or Microsoft. Asking driving directions on those for a trip from Northwestern University in suburban Chicago to the Navy Pier Amusement Park in downtown Chicago -- both locations on the shore of Lake Michigan, produced answers requiring drives of 40 to 117 miles. The actual distance is 12 miles, in a scenic drive along the lake. MapQuest produced the correct answer.

 

Computer migration: the Hawaiian way

  PC Relocator

 

   Moving to a new PC is one of life's frustrating experiences. Can you take it with you? The "it" in question of course is all those old programs and configurations that took you months and perhaps years to arrange.

   Earlier this year, Cnet www.cnet.com  ompared six programs for migrating your contents from one computer to another and rated "Aloha Bob's PC Relocator" on top. We wrote about this program two years ago, but now there are some new features, and the biggest one is selectivity.

   Now you can choose which files and programs to move, including photos, music, your old bookmarked favorites from the browser, etc. The settings remain the same as before and do not interfere with the new operating system. You can make the transfer through a standard parallel cable, supplied in the box with the program, your own USB cable or over a network. You can also do the transfer without linking the two computers. The program lets you make all the transfers to another drive: a Zip, portable hard drive, tape, etc. This can then be connected to the new computer and the transfer takes place.

 

   AlohaBob, version 4, is $50. Web: www.eisenworld.com.

 

Hard copy

 

   Samsung has a new laser printer for $199. That's the list price on their model ML-1430, so you can probably find it discounted below that. This is the lowest price we have even found for a laser printer.

 

The numbers report

 

   Last year for the first time, North America accounted for less than half of all Internet connections originating during hours of peak use. (Note: We now encounter many sites with no English language version.)

 

   According to research by Jupiter Media Matrix, one-third of home workers in the U.S. connect to the Internet through a broadband link: cable or other high-speed line. It's expensive, averaging about $50 a month.

 

Internuts

-- www.photography.com  Click on "copyright your photos" and you can do just that online. The right photo can bring in lifetime royalties. Interestingly the site also allows you to copyright writings, music, computer programs, artwork, maps, architectural drawings, etc.

-- www.arcadegamesonline.com  Click on the "classic" category and you will be taken to the wonderland of early computer games: Asteroids, Centipede, Tetris, Pong, Donkey Kong, Frogger, PacMan, Pengo, etc.

-- www.tripletsrus.com  Click on the "80s." Has music and games: DigDug, Galaxian, Space Invaders, and the prime time TV schedules from 1979 to 90, including theme music (not the best renditions, but recognizable).

 

-- www.shockwave.com  Still more idle amusement: Joust, Defender, Rampage, etc. If you have Windows with Shockwave installed, and many people do, no further downloads are required.

 

-- www.songfacts.com  Explanations of what many pop songs are really about. Reminds me of an Englishman telling me one time that he had to admit he found the words in many American songs hard to understand. Well, so do I.

 

Books

 High Scores

 

 

   Some books are just plain fun. Here's one: "High Score, the illustrated history of electronic games," by DeMarla and Wilson; $25 from Osborne-McGraw/Hill.

   This is a lavishly illustrated (2-6 pictures to the page) history of the ancient (more than three years ago) and noble (remember Lord British?) art of playing video games. Video games now outsell movies tickets, by the way, just as we predicted they would. Be there or be square; this is the new pulp fiction.

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.