Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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March 2003, Week 3 --  Some Taxing Numbers





   A survey by Iomega found that 62 percent of computer owners do not use their machines to do their tax returns. The vast majority use paper and pencil or have an accountant do it. The people most likely to use their computers were those with higher incomes and higher education. Even then the number was less than 50 percent.

   Which is part of the reason I stopped covering tax preparation software many years ago. There were several reasons: the subject is boring almost beyond belief, there are almost no differences between the programs, the computer magazines and many newspapers already cover the subject to death, and finally, hardly anyone is interested. I've noticed that professional accountants use such software, though, including the popular ones, like TurboTax from Intuit, and TaxCut, from H&R Block.


   Since the above survey was paid for by Iomega, a company that makes removable storage drives, users were queried on their backup habits. Only 43 percent of those surveyed said they back up their data.


Hard Copy


hp psc 1210


   The lightest multipurpose office machine we've ever lifted just came in from Hewlett Packard Cheap too. We found it for $160 retail at

   The "HP PSC 1210" (where do they get these catchy names?) is a combination color printer, flatbed scanner and copier. You can make a copy with the press of a button.

   The unit has a sleek design, needs little desktop space and weighs just over 10 pounds. It works with either Windows or Macintosh. The output in black and color looked outstanding. The only downside here is that the ink cartridges are small, so you will have to replace them more often than most other printers. Of course that's how they make their money. Printers are cheap these days, ink cartridges expensive. We've written on this subject several times and you can find those older columns on our web site.



Old Version

--  Confused by the latest upgrade from Soft Widgets Inc.? Longing for the old software you knew how to use? This is the place. If you have upgraded and hated the results, this site will take your software back to an earlier version, the one you liked.


-- Tom explains what those strange error messages in Outlook Express mean. He also tells you how to back up your contact list and email messages. Site has useful links.


New Keyboard

Type Matrix

   A new ergonomic keyboard from TypeMatrix, claims to end the "repetitive stress" (wrist pain) syndrome reported by some people who do a lot of typing. I don't know if it works or not: I'm a journalist who's been typing for more than 20 years and I've never had wrist pain; but I'm sure I'll hear from readers who have.

   The makers of the TypeMatrix say two main features can stop the wrist pain experienced by some typists. The first is the split keyboard, one set of characters for the left hand, the other set for the right. The second is a flat, low profile: the keyboard does not tilt upwards like most others. A similar keyboard was came out a couple of years ago from Microsoft; that design angles the two character sets slightly apart to separate the hands more as one types.


   An additional feature to the TypeMatrix is that one of the function keys switches the keyboard into Dvorak mode. The Dvorak character layout is quite different from the standard "qwerty" arrangement and takes a lot of getting used to. Since the lettering on the keys does not change when you make the switch, it's suitable only for touch typists who already know that kind of layout. Another problem is that in either normal or Dvorak mode, the return, shift, caps lock and some other keys are not in their typical locations.


   The maker admits the keyboard takes some getting used to: several weeks in their opinion. Still, if the pain is too much for you, perhaps it's worth a try. The keyboard is $99, from


Two File Print Utilities


    "STG Folder Print Plus" is from Starglider Systems and lets Windows users list all files and folders, with their particulars. This is more useful than it sounds at first.

   For example, you can locate files even if they are embedded inside compressed archives. You can see at a glance how much of your hard drive or auxiliary drives is used by what files, their sizes, creation and last modification dates and version numbers for executable files. You can search for files by date or size.


   The author, Luiz Marques, thinks the utility would be particularly useful for MP3 music file collectors. The program displays each music file by name, its play length in minutes and seconds and the sampling frequency. This last provides a guide to the music's fidelity to the original; the higher the rate, the truer the recording.


STG Folder Print Plus is $22 for Windows at


   If all those features are more than you want or need, a similar Windows program, "APrintDirect," is slightly cheaper at $14 and has slightly fewer features.


   You can print the particulars about all files and the contents of folders, and specify their print order: alphabetically, size, date of last edit, etc. The list can be "comma delimited," which is a style that can be read and understood by most database programs. APrintDirect is available only from the web site:


   NOTE: Readers can search through past columns by going to our web site: You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at or