Bob and Joy Schwabach

This Column Appears in:
Birmingham, AL  "News"
Little Rock, AR "Democrat Gazette"
New Britain, CT "Herald"
Orlando, FL, "Citizen Gazette"
Vero Beach, FL, 'Press Journal"
Kaneohe, HA, "Midweek"
Geneva, IL, "Chronicle"
Shreveport, LA "
The Times"
Worcester, MA Telegram & Gazette"  
Carlisle, PA, "Evening Sentinel"
Fort Myers, FL "News Press"
Spokane, WA, "Northwest Online"
Bangkok, Thailand,  "Post"
Shanghai, China “Daily News”
Hanoi, Vietnam "Vietnam News"  























September 2007, Week 4    


Lately we’ve been getting lots of link requests from people using the business networking service. And no wonder: there are over 14 million users.

LinkedIn is a contact generator. When you sign up for the service, which is free, you enter information about yourself and your profession. People who want to add you to their contact list send you an email and request the link. If you say yes, you not only add them to your contact list but you get to see their list of contacts as well.  

This obviously has uses for both professional and social contacts. One of our links has over 500 contacts of their own. We can see their names, professions and whatever other information they are willing to make public, such as location, email address and personal web site. Some have added their interests, educational level and other information.

When you go the web site to sign up for a LinkedIn account, there are seven tabs across the top of the screen. One is for your profile, which you can edit, another for your contacts, which will in turn take you to their contacts, and so on. One of the tabs is for jobs and hiring, which would seem to be one of the most useful aspects of being linked in. We noticed that the big advertising agency, Y&R Ogilvy, is looking for a creative director in our city and Google is looking for a marketing person. The “Services” tab lets you see people who your various contacts have recommended for jobs. 

An “Answers” tab on the web site lets you pose a question to thousands of people who might have knowledge or an interest in your field or you can post yourself as an expert to be consulted. This is all free but they also have paid services with extra features. You can look these over at the web site: 

High Tech Spam Filters 

What’s different about is that it’s a spam filtering service that obliterates the spam. Unlike other spam filters, the entire message is examined for content, not just a search for key words that might be objectionable. 

There are versions for kids and adults. In the version for children, the intent is to protect them from receiving spam that is pornographic, in bad taste, a criminal solicitation, etc., not merely by blocking such messages but removing them so they can not be read later. This is quite different from ordinary spam blockers, which move spam to a dump file to be deleted later. In that situation the spam messages can still be read simply by opening the file. In addition, the child version allows the controlling operator – presumably a parent, to not only block spam but also block messages from senders that have not been previously approved.  

The cost is $24 a year and for that price you can set up spam blocking for two email addresses. You can also select levels of control: You can have a carbon copy sent to you of each email your child sends or receives. You can look at a daily report of all junk mail sent to your child's address, and forward on to them anything that you decide isn't junk.  

The adult version, which has similar controls, costs $4 a month. Both these versions were rated best of their type by PC World and PC Computing magazines. 


  • is a web site that lets you click on places in a world map and add that graphic to your FaceBook  or MySpace profile as well as to blogs and other web sites. It’s sort of a picture of where you’ve been in the world. About three million Facebook users have chronicled their travels this way.
  • offers walking tours with a jazz beat. You can download  tours for some major American cities  and  hear turn-by-turn directions on your iPod or MP3 player as you stroll. The narrative is delivered by hip locals who seem to have been instructed to act really cool. There’s a jazz background and we found the whole thing rather too precious for words. Ah well, anything to be different.

Kid Games 

We looked at Net Jet, a new $25 game device from toy maker Hasbro and Tiger Electronics. It’s a hand-held game controller that plugs into any USB slot on a Windows computer. Games come on small flash drives that plug into the controller, much like memory cards plugging into a digital camera.  

The games are simple, aimed at players between 6 and 12. Additional memory cards have two games each and list for $15. All this stuff will be discounted, of course, so the actual prices may be considerable lower.  

You have to be online for the games to work, so this raises the question of why not connect to free game sites like those at (just click the “game” tab),,, and many others. The argument for using the Net Jet instead of playing free games online is that using the controller means the child does not handle the computer’s keyboard and mouse, with the presumed risk of messing up some computer files. We found that this wasn’t true, and the child does have to use both keyboard and mouse for some games. Further notes: The package was extremely difficult to open and while some of the games were straight-forward, we had difficulty with others. More info at