October 2004, Week 3
-- Strictly Business
Quicken and Nolo Press have put together the
2005 version of "Legal Business Pro," with more than 140 legal forms and
contracts ready to sign.
The forms cover "Checklist for Starting a Small Business,"
"Partnership Agreements," "Corporate Tax Returns," "Contracts," and a
small host of others. Many of the forms go beyond legal issues and cover
things like customer surveys, marketing strategies and questionnaires
for suppliers. What's really valuable here is that the program asks you
questions you probably wouldn't have thought of. It prompts you for all
the information you need to create a document.
In addition to the legal and organizational forms, the 2005 version
comes with a couple of extra programs: The first, "Office Ready Pro,"
has over 500 templates for used with Microsoft Office, including
newsletters, brochures, expense reports, business cards, etc. These can
be published as PDF documents. When you register Legal Business Pro
online you get a second program with more than 3,000 business and sales
The boxed edition of Legal Business Pro is $80 from
www.nolo.com, the download is $65. We noticed you can buy the 2004
version of this program for $27 from
Searching the web
Out favorite search engine, the hard to type "Vivisimo," has
morphed into a new clustering engine called
Clustering engines gather results to your query in categories. For
instance, if you type in "plants," you will see a list on the left hand
side of the screen that has categories such as "flowers," "garden,"
"poisonous," "power plants," "house plants," etc., all concerned with
plants. You would get this in the earlier Vivisimo engine as well, but
Clusty narrows your search up front by allowing you to click on tabs for
your category of choice: news, shopping, yellow pages, images, blogs,
encyclopedia, etc. A new tab lets you click on the 1000-page CIA
intelligence report on Iraq and "weapons of mass destruction."
Go to www.clusty.com/wmd.
Many searches come back with pictures. If you search on any of the
Presidential candidates, for example, you get information plus a picture
of the candidate. The same kind of results hold for news and shopping.
In a bow to the new hot topic, one of the search tabs is for "blogs."
Blogs were originally called "web logs" and they were simply chains or
threads of conversation about one or more subjects. They have become
much more than that these days and are a source of current information
and comment from many people, some of whom are quite knowledgeable about
a topic. Blogs are even thought to be influencing voters in the upcoming
national elections. You can get software for creating your own blog at
www.blogit.com and a number of other sites. Just do a search on
The Mozilla Organization's new web browser, "Firefox," has already
had 3.5 million downloads since its release last month (September). The
browser is free at
www.mozilla.org. Meanwhile, the Norwegian web browser, "Opera"
www.opera.com, now has a free accessory program intended as a
substitute for Microsoft's "PowerPoint." This turns out to be incredibly
simple to use.
The commanding market share of Microsoft's own browser, "Internet
Explorer," has been slowly and steadily eroding as millions of user
switch to the two browsers mentioned above and any of a half dozen from
lesser known makers. Internet Explorer commanded a 98 percent share of
the web browser market as recently as early this year, but is now down
to 90 percent.
Some estimates put the Microsoft browser share as low as 70 percent
but the reality probably depends on how you look at it. For instance we
have Internet Explorer (IE) and Mozilla both on our machines, but almost
never use IE. That might count us as still in the IE column.
Lapping the field
Laplink Gold 12 adds
virus protection to the oldest and one of the most highly regarded
computer linking programs in the business. The program allows you to
remotely access files between any computers using the Windows operating
system from Win 98 on up.
The virus protection has become increasingly important as the
number of viral and stealth spyware attacks has been increasing at an
exponential rate. Earlier this year, programmers involved in computer
security were estimating that the amount of time between a computer
going online and the first attack was less than 20 minutes. Recently
that time estimate has been cut to 30 seconds.
Laplink Gold 12 provides secure connections through firewalls
without any special configurations or having to open extra ports. File
transfers are as fast as the weakest link in your connection. The
software is smart enough to update only the changes made in a file since
the last update. You can even a phone conversation over the same line
while the files are updating.
This program is practically a standard in the field and is commonly
used by help desks to solve problems from users in many areas of a
company or offices far afield. The interface used to be a little
confusing but has been streamlined by hiding functions not in use or
likely to be used immediately.
Pricing for Laplink Gold 12 is $50 for the boxed version and $40 as
a download. Web site:
"Rome: Total War," is an awesome recreation of the techniques and
battles of the Roman Empire's military machine, a force that ruled the
Mediterranean world for 500 years. This is a "must own" program for war
gamers. It has all the peoples and civilizations the Romans encountered
in their imperial conquests. The graphics and technology are so good the
game is being used by the History Channel to explore the art of war in
Roman times. It's for Win 98 and up, $50 from Activision;