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     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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November 2001, Week 4 Roll Your Own Screen Saver

 

Screen Creator 

   Individual Software's "Screen Creator Deluxe" pulls together text, pictures, sound clips and even video so you make your own screen saver.

   There is an obvious appeal for the home videophile who wants to have a rolling screen saver showing the kids, the dog and the car. But for years I have thought businesses should make their own screen savers and wondered why more of them don't. Let's say people are waiting in the lobby for an appointment, for example. The company could have a screen saver running that showed all their products or their facilities, complete with voice-over. Salesmen on the road should have corporate screen savers on their laptops. Put the screen savers on a disk and send them to customers. Lots of angles here.

 

   Screen Creator Deluxe is $30 and can pull together 1,000 pages into any screen saver you make. Hard to see how this program can miss. Web site: www.individualsoftware.com. (This is the same company that also makes the best-selling "ResumeMaker.")

 

The numbers report

 

   According to the Harris and Nielsen polls, about 106 million people will shop online this holiday season and they will spend $10 billion. That's a 50 percent increase from the expenditures for last year.

 

Burned-up by pop-up

 

   I'm getting a lot of pop-up ads on my Internet screens these days and I'm sure the rest of the world is faring about the same. The major offenders seem to be financial and retail web sites. Time to put a stop to this.

 

   "Pop-Up Stopper 2.6" is a free program you can download from www.popupstopper.net. It eliminates both pop-up and pop-under ads. The pop-unders are the ones that are there on your screen after you've exited the web site. Some pop-ups are from pornography sites, by the way, so you want to keep this stuff off the screen.

 

Burn DVD in real time

 

 neoDVD

   Many new computers are coming out now with integral DVD write and play units in the main box. Meanwhile, DVD burners are smoking as gifts for computer owners this year. Prices are down and the volume is up. Who is unhappy about this? Movie makers, that's who.

   Movie studios have put protection codes on their commercial DVDs, which will supposedly foil any attempt to make illegal copies. But in fact there are already programs out there for making illegal copies. I've received e-mail offers for two in the past week. One called "freeyellow" is already making the rounds of the hip, fast-moving and aware tech crowd. By the way, I have never copied a movie and will not. I mean ... once you've seen it, what's the point?

 

   Digital video is becoming the standard form. "neoDVD," from mediostream (stet) is a $99 Windows program that writes any of five DVD formats, including the VCD format popular in Asia, to either DVD disks, regular CDs or a hard drive.

 

   The software burns DVD from any digital video source in real time; no waiting. Files are compressed for efficient storage. What we really liked about this program is the interface. This program is so easy to use it should get an award for that alone. Menu choices are worded as plain sentences. Example: "I would like to transfer the video from my digital camcorder to my hard disk, CD or DVD." Click on that and it goes. Web site: www.mediostream.com.

 

Internuts

-- www.unclaimedbaggage.com   Do airlines lose out luggage on purpose or are they just clumsy? I've had airlines lose my luggage twice and both times were on non-stop flights. How do they do it?

   Maybe it's that Alabama warehouse. About 2,000-3,000 pieces of lost luggage a day arrive at a warehouse in Scottsboro, Ala., and there they sit waiting for you to buy. How about a full suit of armor for only $1,000. Hard to resist, eh. Just the thing for your next joust.

 

 

-- www.mortgagegift.com  Some people send checks as gifts for the holidays. In a new twist here, you can send a mortgage payment. The site sponsor pays the recipient's mortgage with your check and sends a card.

-- www.mail2web.com  When you're on the road at a hotel and don't know how to get your e-mail, try this outfit. Go to this site, type your user name and password, and it brings in your mail. Works with most services but not with AOL.

 

-- www.healthatoz.com  A health information site sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton, NJ. Johnson was a founder of the giant pharmaceutical and medical supply house, Johnson & Johnson.

 

That's entertainment

  Lego Racers 2

 

   "LightWeight Ninja," whose title is amusing enough, is a scrolling game from Stardock. Scrolling games, sometimes called rotoscope, features a character moving through a changing landscape or set of scenes. It's a popular technique for children's games; Disney does a lot of games in this style. Interestingly, while it looks like the character is moving, in fact the character occupies the center of the screen and it is the background that moves.

   Enough of this arcane chit-chat, Lightweight Ninja is fun, has some elements of adventure games, and is only $20 list, for Windows. Web: www.stardock.com.

   "Lego Racers 2," for Windows, from Lego Software. One of the best kid's games we've ever run. Build your race car from the familiar Lego blocks, then enter it in races on Mars, Dino Island, the Arctic, etc. This was a non-stop hit with our kid testers.

 

NOTE: Readers can search nearly four years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at bobschwab@oncomp.com or bobschwab@aol.com.

 

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