Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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May 2002, Week 2 -- New Hope for the Terminally Disorganized




   "Note Wonder" is a $30 Windows program that lets you, well ... enter notes. It sits there in the Windows task bar and pops up when you click.

   It should be noted that Note Wonder has no note limit, so to speak. You can have hundreds or thousands of notes, and they can be recalled instantly if you can remember any of the words -- like someone's name, a place or a subject.

   This is what used to be called a "flat file" or random access database. Large, complex databases are usually hierarchical, listing information in a tree structure that branches out into ever smaller sub-categories. Here, information can be entered in any order and recalled by key words.


   This is perfect for people (like me) who can never figure out where to put some piece of information. Some structure can be imposed if you want it. Similar notes can be compiled into file folders -- "family and friends," for example, so they can be called up as a group. You can enter reminder notes, which pop up at intervals you select to warn you of coming appointments or anniversaries. And there are a few templates, like a fax cover sheet, phone book, etc., for those who could use a little help. Otherwise ... it's as you like it.


   Note Wonder is from Forty Software


Getting on top of topography

  Topo USA

   The map is not the territory, as Count Korzybski was fond of repeating in his didactic way. Of course he was talking about semantics but his meaning applies here as well.

   "Topo USA 4.0" is DeLorme's latest effort at mapping an area's topographical features as well as its streets and roads. Their first version of this software was really terrible, but this one is pretty good. One of the nicest features is the ability to split the screen, showing a large scale map of the area on one side and a detail expanded on the other.


   You can also add your own roads or paths to an area, and the program then accepts that as new information and allows you to plot routes that include that road. The track can be one that you worked out on your own, using the marks from a handheld GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver. These have become popular with hikers who like to leave established tracks and strike out on their own. Typo USA will accept that new information as a known track and it can be used by the software to plan a route, the same as if it were a regular road or path. Make your own shortcut. Both this and the split screen feature are at present unique to this program.


   Typo USA 4.0  is $50 for Windows is $50, list, for Windows 98 and up.



--  Web Highlighter lets you highlight any web site text in yellow, as if you were using one of those highlight pens on paper. You can also add notes: if the cursor hovers over a chosen spot for a few seconds, a brief note will appear. Free to download and use.

--  WordWeb is a free thesaurus and dictionary that is much better than the ones that come with MS Word and other word processors. Dictionary has a 160,000 word list and the thesaurus has more than 100,000 synonym sets. You can also ask for antonyms or create anagrams. Interestingly, the download is free from the site but $18 if ordered from the maker's web site: <>. The site also has a crossword compiler for $45 that helps you create and edit crossword puzzles.



--   A German site devoted to automobile hood ornaments, American and European. The site is beautifully illustrated and has a link to an even more extensive site. Lepoix is not a sales site, though the web master does list some price ranges for ornaments that have sold at auction. Price range is wide.

--  The Victorian Emporium, to spell it out, is voted to Victorian styles, entertainments, parlor games, greeting cards, wedding customs, etiquette, beauty tips, etc. Not a store.

--  The American Sign Museum is in Cincinnati, Ohio, and just the place to go for a nostalgic view of old American commercial signs. Interesting.

--  Strange but true police reports, odd road signs, cop cartoons, weird news. The road signs are a kick.



  Digital Video

-- "The Little Digital Video Book," by Michael Ruben; $20, Peachpit Press Lots of advice, tips and tricks, on how to shoot better videos with your handheld video camera. There is some light discussion on editing the videos.

-- "How to do Everything With movie 2," by Reveaux and Steinberg; $25, Osborne-McGraw/Hill The Macintosh movie software and hardware combination has become the premiere package for home-based movie makers and they will like this book, full of tips and tricks.


   READER NOTE: Readers frequently ask what computer books are available in some subject area. If they go to our web site and click on the "Library" section, more than 300 recent books are shown. About 2,000 computer books, not counting text books, are published each year.


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