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
www.lynda.com. 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
www.quepublishing.com, 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
As we dug deeper into the bowels of the worldwide web, we found
WordPerfect Office 11, the earlier version, for just $26 at
also found an upgrade to WordPerfect Office 12 for $117, at
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
www.engrish.com 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.
www.wikipedia.org 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
www.webbyawards.com 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.