Bob and Joy Schwabach
 

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September 2007, Week 3    

FREE SPY CATCHER


SpyBot Search and Destroy is out in a new version that adds a spy shield to block incoming bad guys and keep the decks clear. And as before, it's free.

We have used the old version for years and run it first thing every morning. The new version 1.5 now works with Vista as well as earlier versions of Windows. We have been using it every day and sometimes twice a day. When Joy downloaded the new version and ran the first scan, SpyBot found 58 pieces of spyware on her H-P desktop machine. The previous version had typically found five to 10. Both of us found the spy shield function works so well, that when we run SpyBot now, it usually comes up with no spies found.

The new version works on its own and/or with Internet Explorer, Firefox and Spybot Opera Web browsers to block spies before they can get on your machine. A new tool in the program prevents changes being made to the Windows registry file, a key hiding place for many spies. If you want to permit a change, you can do that.

We have found that with this spyware blocker and the AVG Antivirus program, both of which are free, our computers have been running cleanly. You can get SpyBot at SpyBot.info and AVG Antivirus at Free.Grisoft.com. Both programs are the best of their type that we've tried.

ONE MOVIE, ONE TAKE

The new Canon camcorder that comes out in October will contain a 40-gigabyte hard drive, letting the shooter store 15 hours of standard video or 5.5 hours in high definition. With a whole lot of planning you could theoretically shoot an entire movie in one run.

Canon HG 10The new camcorder is called the HG10 (another mysterious name) and is expected to retail for $1,300. As a practical matter, discount stores will knock a hundred or two off that immediately. The HG10 weighs just a fraction over 1 pound and easily fits in one hand. More info and all that stuff at the company Web site: Canon.com.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT

There is a truncated free version of the best-selling game Peggle at the maker's Web site, PopCap.com  or MSN.com. It's an action-filled pinball game that has been downloaded more than 5 million times. It was voted one of the 100 best games ever by PC Gamer magazine. MSNBC.com featured Peggle among the "Five Most Addictive Video Games of All Time." It's so popular you can view YouTube videos that people have posted to show off their high-scoring games.

PeggleIt's also one of the most addictive games we've ever played and so much fun that we normally play it at least once to start the day in the office. If we clear a screen, we get rewarded with Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" movement from his Ninth Symphony along with some nice fireworks.

The free version displays in a box on most screens; the full deluxe version is full-screen. The PopCap Web site will prompt you to download the deluxe version for $20 and lets you play an hour of it as a preview for no charge. You can go for it or not, as you choose. We chose.

When Electronic Arts releases its Soccer 08 game in October, players on Xbox or PlayStation 3 will be able to download a free feature that lets 10 people connect at once. They can form into two teams of five each and knock virtual heads. (What about a referee?)

MEET THE PLAYERS

Most computer game players are not teenagers, but are, in fact, well into their adult years. Here are some of the numbers:

Information Solutions Group recently surveyed more than 2,800 white-collar workers about playing games at work. About one-fourth of those admitted that they play games at work. (By the way, this percentage is exactly the same as found in a different survey Bob remembers writing about more than 20 years ago.)

Thirty-five percent of senior executives admitted they played games at work (computer games, they mean). Eighty-four percent said they played computer games between 15 minutes and an hour a day. Best of all, 14 percent admitted they played computer games during conference calls and business meetings. (We've been to meetings like that.)

Many office workers admitted they started their day by playing a video game. (Oops, that's how we start our day. Guilty, guilty, guilty.)

BOOKS

"FileMaker Pro 9: The Missing Manual" by Susan Prosser and Geoff Coffey; $35 from MissingManuals.com.

FileMaker Pro is an insanely popular database program, not least because it works the same on either Windows or Mac machines. It's powerful enough to manage a substantial business or a small country.

It is full-featured and relatively easy to use. But, like any large program, there are complexities and depths that few users ever plumb. Manuals that come withFilemaker Pro 9: The Missing Manual large programs are usually of little help, which is why O'Reilly Press started its "Missing Manual" series. Each chapter in this book contains an example of a database designed for a particular purpose and then a tutorial on how to build it. (Does Lichtenstein know about this?)

NOTE: Readers can search several years of On Computers columns at our web site: OnComp.com. We can be contacted by email at JoyDee@OnComp.com and BobSchwab@gmail.com

 

 

 
 
 
           

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