Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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May 2000, Week 2 -- The End of Software as We Know It, etc.





   The title of PC Computing Magazine was just changed to "Smart Business for the New Economy." Not catchy, but could it catch on?

   In other words ... is this the end of software as know it? How about, as we used to love and hate it?

   Probably. We're not going to go on at great length about this but the first issue under the new title has a long section on "ASPs," the new buzz acronym; it stand for "application service providers."

   The premise, and the question being asked and answered, is why buy your own software when you can lease it on the web? Why buy your own accounting software, go through the time and frustration or learning it (and believe me, there is plenty of that) when you can log onto some web site and have somebody else do your payroll and billing for you. You can log on to sites for games, word processing, photo editing, project management, personnel records, hiring, and on into the night.


   There's no question this nascent trend is going to continue; the economics of it are too compelling to stop. The only slight demurrer that may be raised (and you can bet I'm going to raise it) is where does your billing and payroll accounting go if the site goes out of business? Or even if it goes down? Well, why cavil when greater minds are at work making a few bucks. Peruse the four dozen sites in the magazine and rest assured, there are many more to come.


Hot download


 The hottest download these days is "Gnutella," free from  It allows users to connect and share each other's files. So far, teenagers have latched onto it as a kind of super "napster," the program used to download MP3 music files without having to pay for them. But Gnutella goes far beyond music and can be used to download any file, as long as the other computer using the software provides permission. Bootleg music is the primary use right now, but business uses are likely to dominate later.


How to find it


   First, go to and download Copernic. We've mentioned this several times before but so many reader write us to ask how to find something on the web that we need to say it again. Here is the answer: download a free copy or pay for one with more features. Either way, you enter the subject you want and Copernic searches a couple of dozen large search engines to locate it. Other search tools that have given us good results: and

Internuts Fill out expense account reports, purchase orders, invoices and many other business forms. The forms are all on the site. Free. Does searches for recent articles on subjects you select. Unusual in that it also searches current book titles and transcripts of radio and TV programs. Put all your bookmarks on this site and make them available to others, or not - as you please. Keeps your marks organized as well. Ever wonder who made all those crop circles in England? No, it wasn't the creatures from the purple planet, it was a bunch of Englishmen with a peculiar sense of humor. And you can watch their videos to prove it. Consider it a kind of performance art, with diagrams of the best work.  Tom Arnold, actor and former husband of TV sitcom actress Rosanne Barr, is looking for a new wife. Wanna give it a shot?  As satellite dish owners have known for a long time, you can tune in on TV location feeds before they are ready to go on the air. Watch famous newscasters grouse at each other and complain about their stories. Uncensored broadcasting. Classified ads for used carnival rides and fun houses. Last time we looked there were over a thousand of them. Have your own loop-the-loop. What happened on this day in history and all that sort of thing. What happened on your birthday. Longer articles too. "US Air Force, All Aircraft," screen saver, version 2.2. Have your own private air show. Free to try, shareware payment if you want to keep it.


 Astronomy Guitar playing tips from the pros, lessons, equipment, news of new recordings and performances. All that stuff.

Sky King

   "Astronomy," from Compton's and The Learning Company, for Windows 95/98. This is an update of the famous "Redshift" program, which was made by Maris Software and has been acquired by Compton's. It is a killer and multiple prize winner. For serious students of the sky.




   There's an interesting new series of six short handbooks from DK Multimedia, a software house that focuses mainly on educational programs. The books are pocket size and program specific. "Building A Web Site," for example, deals only with Microsoft Front Page; "Digital Photography" keys on Jasc Paint Shop Pro. Nonetheless, the books are exceptionally well done and well worth the $6.95 cover price. Web site:


NOTE: Readers can search more than three years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at or