Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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October 2004, Week 1 -- Hiking, Boating and Powerline Maps

   The latest CD from Maptech is $10 and features topographical maps of the 50 highest peaks in all 50 states. You can look at two-dimensional views from above or three-dimensional side views from any angle. Many businesses use these maps for planning pipe, powerline and road routes.

   Maptech makes a lot of specialized maps on CDs, including detailed topographical maps of each state and some European countries. They have navigational maps for U.S. coastal waterways and the Great Lakes, most of northern Europe and the Mediterranean, and much of Canada, northern Latin America and New Zealand. A recent addition is a topographical, road and street map of Iraq for $300.

   The professional version of these maps usually includes access to aerial photographic views of almost any point. Lot of stuff here, most of it in the $100-$300 price range. Info at

Learning WordPerfect and finding a bargain

   Here's a $50 CD that teaches you the tricks and turns of using WordPerfect 12, the latest version. You might think this is fairly expensive for a training disk, but in fact it's terrific, just about the best instructional CD we've ever run for any program.

   "Learning WordPerfect 12" is from Lynda Publishing They have instructional CDs on many other programs as well, most of them for graphics. But if you want to go really cheap on learning and getting WordPerfect, here are some very reasonable approaches and a couple that really raised our eyebrows:

   You can buy the "Absolute Beginner's Guide to WordPerfect 12" for $19 from Que, or the much more exhaustive "Using WordPerfect 12" for $40. If you'd rather work from a book than a disk with a talking instructor, there are nearly 900 pages of detail in the latter book.

  As we dug deeper into the bowels of the worldwide web, we found WordPerfect Office 11, the earlier version, for just $26 at We also found an upgrade to WordPerfect Office 12 for $117, at

  Frankly, the Wordperfect Office program is great. Bob has dropped Microsoft Word and just uses WordPerfect now.

The moving finger prints

   "LockBox" is Micro Solutions latest addition to their backpack line of portable hard drives. This one checks your fingerprint before you can open any files. The 80 gigabyte version has a list price of $199 and the price goes up to $349 for the 250 gigabyte version.

   A little commentary music, please:

   Fingerprint security is one of the current high-tech hot topics. The marketing argument is that someone can hack their way to your password but they can't duplicate your fingerprint. This premise alone is questionable, but a more immediate objection is 'what if the person with the necessary fingerprint is sick or gets hit by a truck?' Either way,  he's gone.

   When we presented this argument to one of the many makers of fingerprint id equipment, the response was 'You can also have a password that unlocks the device if the fingerprint owner isn't present.' Well it seems to us, if you can unlock the device with a password, why isn't that just as vulnerable to hacking as any other password device? No satisfactory answer was forthcoming.

   Fingerprint protection is a high-tech gimmick, but that takes nothing away from Micro Solutions "backpack" portable drives, which we've reviewed before and found to be excellent. More info at


-- And now for something completely politically incorrect ...  Here's a web site with lots of strange and wonderful messages found in advertising, hotels and road signs written by people whose grip on the English language is tenuous at best. Some examples: "Crunky Chocolate" (instead of Chunky Chocolate); a computer error message that reads "scanner something error happens;" a road sign noting "Unclear Power Plant" instead of Nuclear Power Plant. And plenty more.
--  A collection of articles written and edited by anyone. Despite the chaos this might bring to mind, the articles tend to be learned, though unchecked unless through subsequent editing. There are over one million articles in 100 languages. It's an attempt to create some kind of compendium of current knowledge and thought. With any such work, there are lots of errors. Tune in and add your own two cents worth.
--  The place to go to find recent winners of their annual awards for web sites.

Games People Play

  You can hang out the "Gone fishing" sign with Rapala's "Pro Fishing" from Activision. Rapala makes fishing lures and they've included one with each game box. The disk has fishing advice and enactments in over 500,000 acres of the world's best fishing grounds, from the Amazon to the Danube. Choose from 700 lures. It's $30 for Windows at

   Atari's "Locomotion" builds on a previous hit, "Transport Tycoon," with a similar theme. Your job is to build rail systems, airports and shipping facilities so your city can grow and become prosperous. It's by the same game designer who did the enormously popular "Roller Coaster Tycoon." It's $30 for Windows.