Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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October 2002, Week 4 -- Small Wireless Networks







   "BlueGear" is small and slow, but it's cheap and easy.

   A piece of blue plastic about the size of a package of chewing gum plugs directly into a USB port on a Windows PC. Take another piece and plug it into another PC. That's it; got network.

   Each pack of gum (hard to know what else to call them) has a folding antenna. Once the software is installed in each machine they recognize each other. Up to eight computers can be linked in a wireless network with BlueGear, but near as we can find out, the devices are sold only in packages of two for $107 to $130, depending on where you buy.

   Range is claimed to be up to 260 feet (around 80 meters) but of course that would depend on how many walls were in the way. The system uses the "Bluetooth" protocol developed for low-power wireless devices transmitting over short distances. The "Bluetooth class 1" transmission rate is the one used by this tiny network system. It's rated at one megabit per second. That's considered pretty slow these days, but should be more than adequate for a small network that is not in constant use. Bluegear's web site is


Business graphics



   Many businesses have standardized their graphics on CorelDraw. It's expensive but it's great, and the new version 11 adds some new tools and the power of symbols.

   Symbols in graphics are like a hot key. Any graphic or animation can be assigned to a symbol. When that symbol is moved to a web site or a publication, the whole graphic is downloaded to that spot. The download only needs to take place once, so a symbol can stand in for a large graphic and be planted several times in new places without waiting for it to download each time.

   New tools allow the drawing of curves and straight lines together, instead of positioning and pasting later, and various "roughen" brushes can be used to give a finished drawing that artistic hand-drawn look. CorelDraw 11 is $529 from Corel <> or $249 as an upgrade from Corel 9 or 10.


More about spam, and we don't mean ham


   Several readers have written to comment on the "I Hate Spam" program we wrote about recently, and to complain that both it and other spam blockers don't seem to work with America Online (AOL). That's right, and it doesn't need one.


   We use a number of Internet service providers, including AOL, and their spam blocking is far better than any blocker we've tried for other Windows browsers. For those who don't know how to use it, here's all you do: when you get an offending e-mail in AOL, simply forward it to "tosspam" -- spelled just like that. From then on all e-mail from that source will be blocked.


The first spreadsheet





   Go to and you can download VisiCalc, the first computer spreadsheet, and the program that made Apple Computer. belongs to Dan Bricklin, one of the authors of VisiCalc. The download is free.

Internuts: save those bookmarks

   The following Internet sites offer a free service that lets you store your bookmarks and/or e-mail contact lists. You can keep those lists private or have them open to be shared. Looking at shared lists is a great way to find new sites. Storing your bookmarks and e-mail lists on a web site makes them available when you're traveling.

--  Here you can export all your bookmarks and e-mail contacts in one fell swoop, as they say, to a folder or set of folders on this site.

--  This is basically an online database. You have to add your bookmarks and e-mail contacts one at a time, but you can also add memos and task lists, phone numbers and street addresses for e-mail contacts, etc. You can search the bookmarks by key word.

--  Lets you import all your bookmarks and alphabetizes them, which is handy. You can organize the bookmarks into folders and search by key word.

  DVD Confidential



   "DVD Confidential: Hundreds of Hidden Easter Eggs Revealed!," by Marc Saltzman; $15, Osborne/McGraw-Hill

   An amusing book that tells you how to uncover the "Easter eggs" hidden on many movie DVDs. "Easter eggs" are pictures or messages hidden away by the programmer as a kind of secret treasure for those who want to hunt -- hence the name. For instance, on the title screen of "A Fish Called Wanda," you can use the remote control to highlight a small chest above the word "languages." Click the start or enter key and the movie title changes to an aquarium screensaver. Others bring out bloopers, scenes cut from the released film, etc.

 Unreal Tournament 2003

That's Entertainment

   "Unreal Tournament 2003," for Win 98 and up, from Atari. This is a continuation of a famous series, and one of the things it's famous for is the "Unreal" graphics engine developed a couple of years ago. It produces highly detailed, fast-changing scenes, well suited to violent action games like this one. Web:

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