Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                                     A syndicated newspaper column now in its 26th year.

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October 2003, Week 1 -- A Bright Canvas

 Canvas 9


   Canvas 9 has a new look, a new owner and a world of illustration and publishing power.

   As far as big graphics and publishing packages go, Canvas is obscure compared to Corel Draw or Photoshop or Quark. But its advantage is that unlike those others it is an all-in-one solution, containing high-end illustration tools along with page layout in one program. The relatively small cadre of Canvas users know it as the main product of Deneba, a Florida programming house, but it now belongs to Canadian graphics company ACD systems, which has added more than 100 new features to the package.


   ACD has broken Canvas out into three specialized editions: "Professional," "Mapping" and "Scientific Imaging." They come in versions for either Windows or Mactintosh, and it's best to have the most advanced operating system for each and, like all graphics intensive programs, lots of memory.


   Precision is the byword for these programs. Images can be scaled to as large as 2,000 by 2,000 miles (good for outer space, we guess), down to as small as an angstrom (one ten-millionth of millimeter, which is itself one-thousandth of a meter). The user can create an unlimited number of overlapping layers for any illustration, extremely useful for mapping. The mapping version can import standard digital geographic files and the scientific version can handle direct access to numeric data.


   Canvas 9 starts at $400 a copy -- not cheap, but a 15-day free trial can be downloaded from their web site: Check out their image gallery. Windows users must have Win XP or Win 2000, Mac users must have OS X or Jaguar 10.2.


Printer costs

 minolta qms


   A few weeks ago we did an analysis of color printer costs and found to our surprise that if you looked at a three-year period, it was cheaper to buy and operate a color laser printer than a low-cost color inkjet. Well now it's even cheaper: the price of the Minolta color laser we were using has been dropped to only $600, after a $100 rebate.

   Several major makers -- Hewlett Packard and Okidata, to name a couple, are now battling in this area and we can expect to see color laser printers discounted to less than $500 by year end. This would give them a huge operating cost advantage over color inkjets, and I would think the makers of inkjets are looking at a tough road ahead.


A Hallmark of a card maker

 Card Studio

   "Hallmark Card Studio 2004 Deluxe" turns a previous trailer of a card-making program right into a contender for the lead. There are over a thousand new cards, including many now in Hallmark card stores. The user can select from over 10,000 images, and there is a clever "magazine" feature that puts your own pictures on the cover of fantasy magazines. The program is $50 from; Hallmark's own web site did not yet have the program available when we did our review.


Internuts has job application forms for all the big fast food companies, like KFC and Dunkin Donuts, as well as department stores like Marshalls and Old Navy.

--  Home site for the American Checker Federation. They mean the game, not taxi cabs. Tournament news, database of sample games, advanced checkers problems, etc.

 air and space


--  The online fuel cell information center. How a fuel cell works and descriptions of the different types and their benefits and problems. Has a chart of major fuel cell installations worldwide.

--  The National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian. Huge site. Exhibits are always changing; this week there is a show of old art work illustrating the Graf Zeppelin, the Hindenburg, Lindbergh's plane, etc. A wonderful place to explore the milestones of flight. Lots of photos of Earth from above.



  Moving to Linux

   "Moving to Linux," or: "Kiss the Blue Screen of Death Goodbye," by Marcel Gagne; $35, Addison-Wesley The book comes with a copy of Linux on CD. The "blue screen of death" of course refers to what Windows looks like when it freezes, locks up, conks out, call it what you will. No matter what the description there is no escape from there but to reboot the computer.

   The Linux operating system has been strictly a techie domain for the past several years. But because its free, efficient and resistant to crashes, we are beginning to see Linux used in a number of new electronic devices and even some computers. The author maintains that Linux is out of techie land now and can be used by anyone. You can experiment with Linux and still keep your regular operating system by using a hard drive partition system like "Partition Magic" from Power Quest, "Partition Expert" from Acronis.


Musical Games


   "Alice in Vivaldi's Four Seasons," for Windows, $20 from Music Games International "Alice," as in Alice in Wonderland, encounters the familiar figures of the white rabbit and the Cheshire Cat, as she tries to solve puzzles tied to Vivaldi's most celebrated work. A few weeks ago we mentioned this game might be coming up soon, and now it's available.

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