Bob and Joy
                                      
 
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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October 2005, Week 1 -- A Ghost-ly Image

 Ghost 10

 

   Ghost 10 from Symantec, for Windows XP or 2000, is coming out just in time for Halloween. That's the end of that connection because this program is going to delight rather than scare anybody.

 

   Unlike Ghost 9, which was created for business users and requires some computer expertise to use effectively, Ghost 10 is aimed at the small business and home market. It's designed for easy backups and quick restorations.

 

 

   This last is going to make a lot of people happy, including us. It's like a high-power version of Windows' own System Restore function. If you find the computer acting strangely or just stuck in the digital mud, which we find a lot, Ghost 10 can return your computer to an earlier point and can recover all your files and programs. This works even when you can't restart the computer's operating system.

   

 

   How does it do this? Well, it's like the ghost in the machine, which is where the program name comes from. The program backs up everything on your computer, including music and photo files, with a one-button mouse click. It backs up to almost any media: external hard drives, tape, CDs, DVDs, etc. It makes these backups on the fly, and creates a recovery point whenever you install a new program.

   

 

   If you have a Maxtor One Touch backup drive, and we have two of them, Ghost 10 will begin backing up just by touching the button on the Maxtor's drive itself. The backup speed can be set by the user. If you want a fast backup, your computer use will be slowed while it takes place.

   

 

   Symantec has something truly great here, and we haven't thought that in a long time. We love the screen button that simply says, "copy my hard drive." The list price of Ghost 10 is $70 from www.symatec.com . Some online stores are "sold out" of the product before it even arrives.

   

 

Screen Capture Tools

   

 Capture Whiz Pro

   CaptureWizPro is a $30 screen capture program for Windows that provides many of the same features as Tech Smith's Camtasia, but at one-tenth the cost.

   

 

 You can capture a series of screens as video, useful for training, courses and presentations, or capture video itself off the Web. You can also capture mouse movements -- as in the "then you click here" kind of instruction, with the mouse arrow showing where to click. The program will also capture audio, but we found the quality to be poor at the default setting. There's a CD-quality setting for creating larger files, which is better.

   

 

   Essentially, you can capture all or any part of a screen, a video or a PDF document, the last being difficult to do with almost any other tool. The captured material can be sent to a file, of course, or immediately e-mailed or printed. It can also be used as a so-called "sticky note" that displays comments or snips of information in a note on the screen, much like a 3M Post-It note.

   

 

   CaptureWizPro is $30 from the maker, PixelMetrics (www.pixelmetrics.com); a plain vanilla version is $20. The Camtasia program we mentioned earlier costs $299 from TechSmith (www.techsmith.com). This program is top-notch and has many more features than CaptureWizPro. We have reviewed several versions of it in the past, and you can see these on our Web site www.oncomp.com.

   

 

Falling Laser Prices

   

   Samsung's new black-and-white laser printer, the ML 2010, has a list price of $150. But you can quickly forget about the list price: Amazon.com is selling it for $58 after a rebate, and Buy.com is selling it for $75 after rebate.

 

   Dell is selling a black-and-white laser printer for a $99 list price, and generally you can buy only from Dell. It has not received good ratings, however, while the Samsung has gotten top marks from users. The ML 2010 is compatible with PCs, Macs and Linux operating systems and can print at an extremely fast 22 pages per minute. Print quality is beautiful, and we don't see how you can beat the price.

   

 

   There seems to be little if any profit in making and selling printers, so the money has to come from selling ink refills. Even so, laser printing is cheap. We've been paying $60 to $70 a cartridge at office supply stores, and you can print around 5,000 pages before they run dry. That works out to a little over a penny a page, not counting paper cost. You can set the Samsung to run in "toner save" mode and nearly double the number of print jobs.

   

 

Internut

   

 Podcast Alley

  www.podcastalley.com: Podcasts are like radio broadcasts, only they come in over the Internet instead of the airwaves. Here you can search by type: comedy, music, news, etc., and then choose from thousands of stations.

   

 

Free PDF Conversion

   

 

   You can convert a file into a PDF document for free by going to www.pdfonline.com. Like any PDF conversion, all your text and images remain as you laid them out. You go to the Web site, and while you're connected, you can browse to the file you want on your own computer. Choose that file, and the folks at the Web site will do the rest; they'll e-mail you the PDF shortly after they receive the file.

 


 

 

NOTE: Readers can search several years of columns at the "On Computers" Web site: www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at bobschwab@aol.com and Joy Schwabach at joydee@oncomp.com.