Bob and Joy
                                      
 
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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SnagIt Screen Capture (graphic)

February 2006, Week 4 – Reach Out and Snag Someone

   The new "SnagIt 8" has some great features for capturing web sites or anything on your screen. You can mark off all or any part of a page or site and save that as a PDF file or Macromedia "Flash" document. This can be stored or emailed.

   But as they say on TV shopping sites: that's not all you get. The real kicker with this screen capture is that all of the links remain active in the PDF copy. In short, you can email the PDF or Flash to anyone, or simply keep it on file, and whatever links to other sites or information that were in the original, remain "live" in the copy.

   You can add more information and live links of your own. You can take a picture of a resort, or a property for sale, for example, and make any part of that picture clickable to bring up more information or even take you to a web site. You could click on a hotel wing to get room rates or pictures of the view from that room. You could click on a property for sale to get driving instructions, viewing hours, room sizes, etc. As you move the mouse cursor over a picture, areas that are clickable change color slightly. We experimented with a picture of boats under sail and made each one clickable with prices and other information we made up. Using one of the available file formats, we didn't have to send the image as an attachment, it was part of the body of the email.

 

 

 Docupen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knots

   The user interface is the easiest yet for the SnagIt series and we had no trouble navigating it. If you're not sure what to do, a little help message pops up in a couple of seconds. SnagIt 8 is $40 from www.techsmith.com.

A Two-Ounce Scanner

   For the third or fourth time we tried out a new version of the DocuPen portable scanner, and things are getting a little better.

   The DocuPen is more like a wand than a pen, a slender nine-inch, two-ounce rod with a built-in rechargable battery. Place the scanning side of the rod over a piece of paper and move it steadily across. If you follow instructions carefully, you will get a legible scan of whatever was on the paper. The scan handles colors as well as black and white.

In practice this worked fairly well with photos and clean pages with clearly legible dark type against a white or light-colored background. Newspaper and magazine pages often threw it for a loop, but once again, with care, we could get something legible. You can select a scanning resolution of 100-400 dpi (dots per inch).

The DocuPen comes with eight megabytes of memory and you can add more. That's enough for quite a bit of scanned storage and the information can be unloaded to the computer through an ordinary USB cable. The pen comes with the excellent PaperPort software, which includes OCR (optical character recognition) for reading scanned text. Once again, in practice there were always errors but for the most part they were manageable.

Different models of the DocuPen run $100 to $300, depending on features and color capability, at www.docupen.com. We found very little discount pricing from other vendors.

The thing that struck Bob most was that the designers of this little gadget had obviously never seen an old spy movie. You know, the kind where the secret agent whips out his miniature "Minox" camera and quickly photographs the enemy's plans to take over the world. The funny thing about that, is that it actually works. You can take a photograph of any page and then use it just like a scan. With a digital camera you can feed it right into the computer and use OCR software to "read" it. These days you can use a high-resolution camera phone for the same purpose and even instantly transmit the image to another location.

 Internuts

-- www.iwillknot.com How to tie knots that won't slip. Unless, of course, you want to make a slip-knot.
-- www.geekgirls.com The "Geek Girls" can tell you how to set up a home network and much more. Lots of tips on software, podcasting, utilities, VoIP, etc. Easy to understand advice and instruction.

A note from the Ministry of Digital Defense

We got a letter from a reader who complained bitterly about the problems he had downloading and installing new software. Many people have written about such problems, and we know just what they're talking about, because unfortunately we actually run this stuff.

Most computer problems come from adding new software, not from viruses. This is the only business we can think of that puts out products with problems and then charges the customer for another product to fix the problems. Considering this has been going on since the dawn of computer time, two rules are worth repeating:

1.) Never buy anything with a low serial number.
2.) No matter what you get, you have to get something else to make it work.

What it boils down to is this: don't be too quick to upgrade to a new version of anything. If everything is working fine, leave it alone. There's an old farmer's adage that says "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

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.

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