March 2005, Week 2 --
Worried about a hacker finding sensitive information on your PC?
Concerned that spies or co-workers might read something they shouldn't?
"Folder Lock" lets PC users lock, encrypt and password-protect any
number of files and drives.
The protection works even if the locked files are taken from one PC
to another on a USB flash drive, floppy disk or any external drive.
Files are protected from any virus attacks, worms and spyware too. If
you choose to delete the files you have locked, you can shred them so
they can never be recovered. The new version includes the popular
256-Blowfish encryption code.
This was very easy to use. Just drag any file or folder you want to
protect into a special lock-up folder created by Folder Lock. They then
become invisible to anyone who doesn't have the password. You can choose
your level of protection. Basic locking takes place in two seconds.
Encryption is a little slower. To unlock, just click on the folder and
type in your password. It's free to try, $35 to buy, from
Sometimes you want to stop unauthorized users from starting up
certain applications, using chat rooms, installing software, or changing
your system settings. In other words, a lock-down.
Watchman 6.1, is a new version of a program from Barcelona and it
does just that. It even lets you create a message that pops up when
someone can't start a locked program. For instance: "Darn it, Martha, I
told you not to use Internet Explorer to go online. Use Mozilla or
Watchman is free to try, $60 to buy, from
"Cyberlink DVD, Platinum Solution" has a great Windows user
interface. A short stack of four cubes appears on the right side of your
desktop screen. The labels are self explanatory: "Drag any file to make
a data disk" (a CD), "drag audio files to make an audio CD," "drag video
files here to make a CD or DVD," and the last one is "Copy disk content
onto another disk." This is really straight-forward. Select your source
and click on what you want to do with the material.
Cyberlink DVD Platinum costs $80 after a $20 rebate. Included in
that, is the earlier CyberLink DVD, which is just for watching movies
through your computer. The Platinum version lets you burn CDs and DVDs,
plus a lot more. You get software for making backups, burning digital
video and snapshots directly to disk, and editing software for video and
photos. You can also burn music to disk, complete with playlists. The
program is published by AvanQuest
Go Directly to Disk
For $250 we tried skipping the computer and went directly to making
photo CDs with a "PrimeFoto" box from Pacific Image.
Slots in the front of the box accept several kinds of photo memory
cards. Insert a blank CD into the tray on the left of the box and you
have two options: you can now burn the contents of the digital photo
card to a CD, or you can connect the box to your TV to view and select
which pictures you want to burn to the disk. While viewing on the TV,
you ca add titles, music and rotate any picture so you don't end up with
people twisting their necks trying to view the ones that are sideways.
The user manual claimed the finished CD can be viewed and heard
using any of the popular DVD players used for watching movies on TV.
This turned out to be true only if you used CD-R/RW blanks for
recording; CD-R only disks did not work.
This is about as simple as it gets but it's not fast. When we used the
computer's own Windows' on-board CD burning program, it took about 25
seconds to make a photo CD. When we used the PrimeFoto box it took
several minutes. The disk ejected automatically when done. So the main
point of PrimeFoto is being able to make a photo disk without having to
use a computer.
We think the device is a little expensive, but it doesn't need a
computer and it's simple to use. The box itself is about the size and
weight of a thick book. It comes with a good tutorial on CD. We found it
selling for $207 at
www.digitallyunique.com. More info at
The numbers report
According to the market research firm IDC
www.idc.com, about 30-40 percent of all Internet use at work has
nothing to do with the business. Previous studies we've seen have found
that the percentage of non work related browsing is even higher among
We keep receiving emails asking us to verify the personal
information contained in our Citibank account, and we don't even have a
Citibank account. Do not answer any email request to verify your banking
"Internet Annoyances," by Preston Gralla; $25 from O'Reilly
www.oreilly.com. How to stop pop-ups, limit spam, create web site
and blogs, etc. We even learn how to reach an actual person at AOL (see
NOTE: Readers can search several years of columns at the "On Computers"
www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at
and Joy Schwabach at