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October 2000, Week 2 -- The Brand New Computer Blues

 

 Drive 2 Drive

 

 

   So you got one of the latest new computers. Sorry about that. But we're going to fix it.

   The problem is that all the programs you're familiar with are on the old machine. The obvious solution is to transfer everything to the new machine. Ahhh, if only it were that simple. There are two approaches: one called "cloning" and the other called "migration."

   Cloning brings everything over, even the old operating system. Because of that it's usually done to a drive partition that separates the old system from the new. The bad news is the old system will still have all the warts and problems that you had before and that probably forced you into buying a new machine in the first place. The good news is that you get all the old programs.

   For cloning to work best the new computer should be similar to the old computer. Moving from Windows 95 to 98 would be an example. Well known cloning programs are "Ghost" from Symantec, ImageCast from Storage Systems and DriveImage from PowerQuest.

 

   You can also clone one drive to another using the MS-DOS "xcopy" command but it's very slow. A much faster way to do it is with a small utility called "Drive2Drive" from HigherGround Software. Cloning a Windows 98 system with MS-DOS typically takes about 45 minutes, but Drive2Drive knocks that down to less than one minute. It will also partition the new drive on the fly if you wish.

 

   Cloning is a good way to go for complete backups of a hard drive, operating system and all. If you want to retain the advantages of a newer operating system but just transfer all the old programs and files, it's best to go with a migration program like Aloha Bob or a new Internet service from PCfirst.com.

 

   "Aloha Bob's PC Relocater" has been around for a couple of years. It's made by Eisen World and marketed by MacMillan Software, an arm of the giant book publisher. It's fast and retains everything. Unlike a pure cloning program it also updates everything. If there is a newer version of something on the new machine, AlohaBob will use that newer version. There are times when you may not want it to do that, however. One example might be with Microsoft Word. Many new Windows 98 computers come with Word 2000 already installed, but lots of people (myself included) prefer the older Word 97. In that situation you would first delete Word 2000 from the newer machine before transferring the program from the older machine.

 

   AlohaBob is nice, costs $50, and comes with its own parallel cable to connect the two computers. You must connect the computers in some way. If they are part of a network, as they normally would be in a business environment, that provides the connection. If they're not networked, then you usually connect them together with a parallel cable.

 

   The latest approach we've seen is entirely web based. The web site www.pcfirst.com offers what they call "pc2pc" migration, and it's free for now, at least until the end of October. After that the price is expected to be $50, same as AlohaBob. To use the migration service you connect each of the computers by network or cable and then log onto the web site. The migration starts there but as soon as it begins you disconnect from the web and it continues.

 

   You can find AlohaBob at www.alohabob.com or www.macmillansoftware.com. Phone: 888-391-5641.

 

   If you just want to move files to another computer, or drive, the best program we've found is "FastMove," $50 from Touchstone Software. It also synchronizes files, so both machines have the same information. Phone: 978-686-6468; web: www.checkit.com.

 Canon Photo

 

Photo editing

   "Canon Photo, advanced edition" just came in for review, real quiet like, not even an exciting name; it blew us away. They are known for their cameras and printers, but if this is any example, they should be known for their software.

   We have never seen a program easier to use. It stitches single photos into panoramas -- horizontal or vertical. It can turn single shots into videos, create photo montages and mosaics, create masks, layers, easily set up catalogs, and on into the night. Did we mention: there is no learning curve. Why bother with PhotoShop or anything else?

 

   List price is $40, for Windows or Macintosh. Phone info: 714-438-3000; web: www.software.canon.com.

 

Internuts

-- www.peoplespot.com Telephone white pages, census bureau statistics, biographies, lists of world's richest people, authors, FBI most wanted, etc.

-- www.patscan.ubc.ca/funny/bizarre_patents.html Just what it says: bizarre patents uncovered by the patent research department at the University of British Columbia. How about a tubular vest for carrying pet gerbils? The gerbil can crawl around while you keep walking.

 

-- www.netledger.com Best web-based site for accounting now also has standard business services. Free for the first 30 days.

-- www.my-cast.com Local weather forecasts. They mean very local, like just your neighborhood. Forecast is good for three hours in any of 50 metropolitan areas in the U.S. They also cover rural areas. More accurate than the National Weather Service.

-- www.geocities.com/enchantedforest/3278/cereal-guide.html  A guide to the characters found on breakfast cereal boxes. Who are Cap'n Crunch, Count Chocula or Tony the Tiger, and how did they get there?

   NOTE: Readers can search more than 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.