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Full text of "PC Today Volume 2 Issue 8"

Your Windows Authority 



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pctoday.com 



Optimize Windows 
Me/2000/XP p.70 



jse Email Tricks 
lock Spam p. 40 



Format Excel 
Like A Pro p. 30 



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August 2004 Vol. 2 Iss. 
$7.99 U.S. $9.99 Canada 




IBM ThinkPad X Series 



GO with IBM Think Express Program 

IBM ThinkExpress models are designed, configured 

and priced with small to medium-size businesses in mind. 



CNET Editors Choice Award, March, 2004 
IBM ThinkPad X40 



"Availability: All oflers subject to availability. IBM reserves the right to alter product offerings and specifications at any time, without notice. IBM is not responsible for photographic or typographic errors. Pricing: 
does not include tax or shipping and is subject to change without notice. Reseller prices may vary. Warranty: For a copy of applicable product warranties, write to: Warranty Information, P.O. Box 12195, RTP, NC 
27709. Attn: Dept JDJA/B203 IBM makes no representation or warranty regarding third-party products or services Footnotes: (1) Mobile Processor: Power management reduces processor speed when in battery 
mode. (2) Wireless 11a, 11b and 11g: based on IEEE 80211a, 802.11 band 802.1 1g respectively. An adapter with 11a/b, 1 1 b/g or 11 a/b/g can communicate on either or any of these listed formats respectively; the 
actual connection will be based on the access point to which it connects. (3) Included software: may differ from its retail version (il available) and may not include user manuals or all program functionaJity License 
agreements may apply (4) Hard drive: GB - billion bytes. Accessible capacity is less: up to 4GB is service partition. (5) Memory: For PCs without a separate video card, memory supports both system and video. 
Accessible system memory is up to 64MB less than the amount stated, depending on video mode. (6) Limited warranty: Support unrelated to a warranty issue may be subject to additional charges. (7) ServicePac 
services: are available for machines normally used for business, professional or trade purposes, rather than personal, family or household purposes. Service period begins with the equipment date of purchase. Service 



IBM recommends Microsoft 9 Windows 9 XP Professional for Business. 



^^^ 



centrino" 



MOBILE 
TECHNOLOGY 



Protect your data against accidents 
when you're on the road. Accidents definitely do 

happen. Especially when you're working wirelessly. Which is why you should have an 
IBM ThinkPad* notebook with Intel" Centrino"" Mobile Technology. Select ThinkPad 
notebooks are the only PCs designed to sense a fall and, within 500 milliseconds, 
park the hard drive's read/write head. Kind of like an airbag for your data. To view a 
demo, visit ibm.com/shop/m444. You'll see why select IBM ThinkPad notebooks 
with Intel Centrino Mobile Technology give wireless users the confidence to tackle 
almost anything — networking, presentations, even the occasional meeting 
with the pavement And QO frOITI "Oh, #@*a|" tO 

"phew" in less than a second. 

Klutz-proof wireless. Only on a ThinkPad. 
1 866 426-0064 ibm.com/shop/m444 



NEW! IBM ThinkPad R51 

Ultimate Value 

Distinctive IBM Innovations: 

• IBM Active Protection System - 
Helps protect your hard-drive from falls 

System Features: 

• Intel Centrino™ Mobile Technology 

• Intel Pentium' M Processor 1 50GHz 

• Intel PRO/Wireless Network Connection 802.11 b/g' 

• Microsoft Windows XP Professional 5 

• 14.1 " XGA TFT display (1 024x768) 
•256MB DDR SDRAM 5 

• 20GB hard drive" 

• Ultrabay™ Enhanced CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo 

• IBM UltraConnect™ Antenna for increased 
signal strength :> 

• 1-yr system/battery limited warranty 5 



NavCode 28832XU-M419 

THINK EXPRESS MODEL PRICED AT: 



$1,299" 



ServicePac'"' Service Upgrade: 7 
3-yr Depot Repair #30L9192 $132 



IBM ThinkPad X40 

Our thinnest and lightest 

Distinctive IBM Innovations: 

• IBM Active Protection System - 
Helps protect your hard-drive from falls 

• NEW! IBM Rescue and Recovery™ with Rapid 
Restore™ - One-button recovery and restore solution 

System Features: 

• Intel Centrino Mobile Technology 

• Intel Pentium M Processor ULV 1GHz 

• Intel PRO/Wireless Network Connection 802.11b 

• Microsoft Windows XP Professional 
•12.1" XGA TFT display (1024x768) 
•256MB DDR SDRAM 

• 20GB hard drive 

• Integrated Gigabit Ethernet and modem 

• Legendary IBM full-size keyboard' 5 

• Only .94" thin"" 

• 2.7-lb travel weight' 

• 1-yr system/battery limited warranty-' 



NavCode 23861 CU-M419 

THINK EXPRESS MODEL PRICED AT: 



$1,499 



levels are response-lime objectives and are not guarantees. Calls must ba received by 5pm local time in order to qualify lor Next Business Day service. If the machine problem turns out to be a Customer Replaceable 
Unri (CP.ll) IBM will express ship the par: to you foi quick replacement. Onsite 24x7x2-houi service is not available in all locations For ThinkPad notebooks requiring I CD or otbe component replacement. IBM may 
choose to perform service at the depot repair center. (8) Full-size keyboard: As defined by ISO/I EC 15412 (10| Travel weight: includes battery and optional travel bezel instead of standard optical drive in Ultrabay 
bay, if applicable; weight may vary due to vendor components, manufacturing process and options. (11| Thinness: may vary at certain points on the system. (12) Wireless capability: requires compatible wireless- 
enabled options, sold separately. Trademarks: The following are trademarks or registered trademarks of IBM Corporation: IBM. the IBM logo, Rapid Restore. Rescue and Recovery, ThinkPad Ultrabay, UltraConnect 
and UltraNav. Microsoft and Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Intel, Intel Inside, Intel Inside logo. Intel Centrino. Intel Centrino logo, Intel SpeedStep and Pentium are trademarks or registered 
trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United Slates and other countries. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of other companies. ©2004 IBM Corporation. 
All rights reserved. Visit www.ibm.com/pc/ssleconifiutiiig periodically for the latest information on safe and effective computing. 



Take a look at our latest models. And get something nice to shout about. 




Why IBM ThinkPad Notebooks? 

To make IBM ThinkPad*' notebooks 
even more valuable, each one 
featured here comes with all the 
following ThinkVantage™ Technologies: 

IBM Active Protection System: 

Butterfingers unite! IBM ThinkPad 
notebooks now include airbag like 
technology to help protect your hard 
drive from some damage caused by 
drops and jolts (select models). 

NEW! Rescue and Recovery 
with Rapid Restore: 

Lost your data because of a software 
crash or virus? Recover previously 
saved data in minutes with our 
one-button solution. 

Access Connections: 

Switch between wired and wireless 

connections 

Embedded Security 
Subsystem 2.0: 1 
Hackers and thieves, beware. Our 
combined hardware and software 
solution is designed to protect user 
data and keep it private. 

Access IBM: 

Get the help you need, when you 
need it. One button on your ThinkPad 
notebook brings you a world of 
resources and assistance. 

NEW! IBM ThinkPad R51 

System Features: 

• Intel- Centrino 1 '' Mobile Technology 

• Intel Pentium" M Processor 1.5DGHz ! 

• Intel PFIO/Wireless Network Connection 802 .1 1b/g' 

• Microsoft Windows XP Professional' 1 

• 15" SXGA+ TFT display (1400x1050) 
•256MB DDR SDRAM 5 

• 40GB hard drive 6 

• Integrated Ethernet and modem 

• IBM Ultrabay" Enhanced CD-RW/ 
DVD-ROM combo 

• IBM UltraConnect'" Antenna for 
increased signal strength 11 

• 1-yr system/battery limited warranty 



NavCode 1836BDU-M419 

THINK EXPRESS MODEL 

PRICED AT: 



$1,499 



With Microsoft Office Small Business 
Edition 2003: 1; 31,739 




NEW! IBM ThinkPad T42 

System Features: 

• Intel Centrino Mobile Technology 

• Intel Pentium M Processor 1. 50GHz 

* Intel PRO/Wireless Network Connection 
802.1 1b/g 

• Microsoft Windows XP Professional 
•14.1 XGATFT display (1024x768) 

• 32MB ATI Mobility RADEON 7500 
•256MB DDR SDRAM 

•30GB hard drive 

• Integrated Gigabit Ethernet and modem 

• IBM Ultrabay Slim DVD-ROM 

• IBM UltraConnect Antenna 
for increased signal strength 

• Only 1" thin,™ 4.5-lb travel weight" 

• 1-yr system/battery limited warranty 7 



NavCode 237BDTU-M41 9 
THINK EXPRESS MODEL 
PRICED AT: 



$1,629 



With Microsoft Office Small Business 
Edition 2003: $1,869 

ServicePac Service Upgrade: 

3-yr Depot Repair #30L9192 $132 



NEW! IBM ThinkPad T42 

System Features: 

• Intel Centrino Mobile Technology 

• Intel Pentium M Processor 735 (1.70GHz, 
4D0MHz FSB) 

• Intel PRO/Wireless Network Connection 
802.1 1b/g 

• Microsoft Windows XP Professional 

• 15" SXGA+ TFT display (1400x1050) 
■512MB DDR SDRAM 

• 64MB ATI Mobility RADE0M 9600 graphics 
•60GB hard drive (7200 RPM) 

• Integrated Gigabit Ethernet and modem 

• IBM Ultrabay Slim CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo 

• IBM UltraConnect Antenna 
for increased signal strength 

• 3-yr system/1 -yr battery limited warranty' 



NavCode 2379DXU-M41 9 

THINK EXPRESS MODEL 
PRICED AT: 



$2,529 



With Microsoft Office Small Business 
Edition 2003: $2,769 

ServicePac Service Upgrade: 

4-yr Onsite Repair/9x5/Next Business Day 

Response #69P9198 $299 




IBM ThinkPad X40 

System Features: 

• Intel Centrino Mobile Technology 

• Intel Pentium M Processor ULV 1GHz 

• Intel PRO/Wireless Network Connection 

802.11b 

• Microsoft Windows XP Professional 

• 12.1" XGATFT display (1024x768) 

• Intel Extreme Graphics 2 

• 256MB DDR SDRAM 

• 20GB hard drive 

• Integrated Gigabit Ethernet and modem 

• Legendary IBM full-size keyboard' 2 

• Only .94" thin 

• 2.7-lb travel weight 

• 1-yr system/battery limited warranty 7 



NavCode 23861CU-M419 

THINK EXPRESS MODEL 

PRICED AT: 



$1,499 



With Microsoft Office Small Business 
Edition 2003: $1 ,739 

ServicePac 3 Service Upgrade:' 1 

2-yr Onsite Repair/9x5/Next Business Day 

Response #30L9189 $197 

IBM ThinkPad X40 

Distinctive IBM Innovations: 

• Longest standard battery life of any 
leading-brand notebook" 

System Features: 

• Intel Centrino Mobile Technology 

■ Intel Pentium M Processor LV 1.203Hz 

■ Intel PRO/Wireless Network Connection 
802.11b 

• Microsoft Windows XP Professional 
•12.1" XGATFT display (1024x768} 

• Intel Extreme Graphics 2 
•256MB DDR SDRAM 
•40GB hard drive 

• Integrated Gigabit Ethernet and modem 

• Legendary IBM full-size keyboard 

• 7.5-hr Li-Ion battery" 

• 1-yr system/battery limited warranty' 



NavCode 23866GU-M419 
THINK EXPRESS MODEL 



$1,749 



ServicePac Service Upgrade 

3-yr Onsite Repair/9x5/Next Business Day 

Response #30L9195 $243 




IBM ThinkPad X40 Solution Pack 

System Features: 

• Intel Centrino Mobile Technology 

• Intel Pentium M Processor ULV 1 GHz 

• Intel PRO/Wireless Network Connection 
802.11b 

• Microsoft Windows XP Professional 
•1 2.1" XGATFT display (1024x768) 
•256MB DDR SDRAM 

• 20GB hard drive 

• Only .94" thin 

• 2.7-lb travel weight 

• 1-yr system/battery limited warranty' 
Accessories Included: 

•ThinkPad X4 UltraBase™ Dock 

• IBM Ultrabay Slim CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo 

NavCode 23861ZU-M419 

THINK EXPRESS MODEL 
PRICED AT: 



$1,799 



ServicePac Service Upgrade: 

3-yr Onsite Repair/9x5/Next Business Day 

Response #30L9195 $243 



IBM ThinkPad X40 Solution Pack 

Distinctive IBM Innovations: 

• Longest standard battery life of any 
leading-brand notebook 

System Features: 

• Intel Centrino Mobile Technology 

■ Intel Pentium M Processor LV 1 .20GHz 

• Intel PRO/Wireless Network Connection 802.11b 

• Microsoft Windows XP Professional 
•12.1 "XGATFT display (1024x768) 
•256MB DDR SDRAM 

•40GB hard drive 

• Integrated Gigabit Ethernet and modem 

• 7.5-hr Li-Ion battery 

• 3-yr system/1 -yr battery limited warranty' 
Accessories Included: 

• ThinkPad X4 UltraBase Dock 

• IBM Ultrabay Slim CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo 



NavCode 23826UU-M419 
THINK EXPRESS MODEL 
PRICED AT: 



$2,199 



ServicePac Service Upgrade: 

5-yr Onsite Repair/9x5/Next Business Day 

Response #69P9200 $449 



NavCode' 1 Get the latest pricing and information fast. 
Use NavCode on the phone or on the Web. 



* Availability: All offers subject to availability. IBM reserves the right to alter product offerings and specifications -at any time, without notice. IBM is not responsible for photographic or typographic errors. Pricing: does not 
include tax or shipping and is subject to change without notice. Reseller prices may vary, Warranty: For a copy of applicable product warranties, write to: Warranty Information, P.O. Box 12195, RTP, NC 27709, Attn: Dept 
JDJA/B2Q3. IBM makes no representation or warranty regarding third-party products or services. Footnotes: (1) Embedded security system: requires software download. (2) Mobile Processors: Power management reduces 
processor speed when in battery mode. {3) Wireless 11a, 11b and 11 p,: based on IEEE 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.1 1 g, respectively. An adapter with lla/b. 1 1 b/g or 1 1 a/b/g can communicate on either or any of these listed 
formats respectively; the actual connection will be based on the access point to which it connects, (4) Included software: may differ from its retail version (if available) and may not include user manuals or all program 
functionality, License agreements may apply. (5) Memory: For PCs without a separate video card, memory supports both system and video. Accessible system memory is up to 64MB less than the amount stated, depending 
on video mode. (6) Hard drive: GB = billion bytes. Accessible capacity is less: up to 4GB is service partition. (7) Limited warranty: Support unrelated to a warranty issue may be subject Id additional cbarges. (8) Microsoft 
Office XP: Certain Microsoft software product(s) included with this computer may use technological measures for copy protection IN SUCH EVENT, YOU WILL MOT BE ABLE TO USE THE PRODUCT IF YOU DO NOT FULLY 
COMPLY WITH THE PRODUCT ACTIVATION PROCEDURES. Product activation procedures and Microsoft's privacy policy will be detailed during initial launch of the product, or upon certain reinstallations of the software 
product(s) or reconfigurations of the computer, and may be completed by Internet or telephone (toll charges may apply). (9) Travel weight: includes battery and optional travel bezel instead of standard optical drive in 




(Monitor not included} 

Why IBM ThinkCentre PCs? 

Only IBM offers these features to 
protect you, connect you, and keep 
you working. Each ThinkCentre™ 
desktop featured here can give 
you the efficiency, productivity and 
edge you need with the following 
ThinkVanlage Technologies: 

IBM Rapid Restore Ultra: 
Lost your data because of a software 
crash or virus? Recover previously 
saved data in minutes with our 
one-button solution. 

Access IBM: 

Get the help you need, when you need 
it. One button on your ThinkCentre 
desktop brings you a world of 
resources and assistance. 

ImageUltra™ Builder: 

Need to roll out new systems? Image 
and copy your operating system 
across your network in a flash. 
(Order separately) 

IBM ThinkCentre A50p 

System Features: 

• Intel' 1 Pentium' 1 4 Processor 520 with 
HT Technology 

• Processor speed 2. 80GHz 

• 800MHz FSB 

• Microsoft Windows XP Professional 
•256MB DDR PC2700 5 

• 40GB hard drive • CD-RW 

• Integrated 10/100 Ethernet 

• Norton Antivirus" 1 ' with 90 days of virus 
definition updates 

• Lotus SmartSuite"'' Millennium license 

• 1-yr parts/1-yr limited onsite service 
limited warranty" 



NavCode843398U-M419 
THINK EXPRESS MODEL 
PRICED AT: 




(Monitor not included) 



IBM ThinkCentre A50 

Distinctive IBM Innovations: 

• The smallest IBM desktop without 
compromise: 62% smaller than a 
standard IBM desktop 

System Features: 

• Intel Pentium 4 Processor 520 with 
HT Technology 

• Processor speed 2. 80GHz 

• 800MHz FSB 

• Microsoft Windows XP Professional 
•256MB DDR PC2700 

•40GB hard drive 'CD-ROM 
•Integrated 10/100 Ethernet 

• Norton Antivirus with 90 days of virus 
definition updates 

• Lotus SmartSuite Millennium license 

• 3-yr parts/1-yr limited onsite service 
limited warranty" 



NavCode841933U-M419 

THINK EXPRESS MODEL 
PRICED AT: 



$749 



ServicePac Service Upgrade: 

4-yr Onsite Repair/9x5/Next Business Day 

Response #69P9158 $198 

IBM ThinkCentre A50p 

System Features: 

• Intel Pentium 4 Processor 520 with 
HT Technology 

• Processor speed 2.80GHz 

• 800MHz FSB 

• Microsoft Windows XP Professional 

• 256MB DDR PC2700 
■40GB hard drive -CD-RW 

• Norton Antivirus with 90 days of virus 

definition updates 

•Integrated 10/100 Ethernet 

• Lotus SmartSuite Millennium license 

• 3-yr parts/1 -yr limited onsite service 
limited warranty" 



$699 



NavCode843298U-M419 
THINK EXPRESS MODEL 
PRICED AT 



$799 




(Monitor not included) 



IBM ThinkCentre S50 

Distinctive IBM Innovations: 

•The smallest IBM desktop without 
compromise: 62% smaller than a 
standard IBM desktop 

System Features: 

• Intel Pentium 4 Processor 520 with 
HT Technology 

• Processor speed 2.80GHz 

• 800MHz FSB 

• Microsoft Windows XP Professional 
•512MB DDR PC2700 

•40GB hard drive 'CD-ROM 

• Norton Antivirus with 90 days of virus 
definition updates 

•Gigabit Ethernet-integrated 

• 3-yr limited warranty with limited 
onsite service" 



NavCodeB18336U-M419 



$1,079 



With Microsoft Office Small Business 
Edition 2003:31,319 

ServicePac Service Upgrade: 
4-yr 0nsite/9x5/4-hr Response 
#69P9162 $250 

IBM ThinkCentre M50 

System Features: 

• Intel Pentium 4 Processor 520 with 
HT Technology 

• Processor speed 2.80GHz 

• 800MHz FSB 

• Microsoft Windows XP Professional 
•512MB DDR PC2700 

• 40GB hard drive • CD-ROM 

• Intel Extreme Graphics 2 
•Gigabit Ethernet-integrated 

• 3-yr limited warranty with limited 
onsite service" 



NavCoda B187EJU-M419 



$1,049 



With Microsoft Office Small Business 
Edition 2003: $1, 288 
ServicePac Service Upgrade: 
3-yr 0nsite/9x5/4-hr Response 
#41L2734 $129 




MOBILE 
TECHNOLOGY 



IBM recommends Microsoft" 
Windows 8 XP Professional 
for Business. 

IBM ThinkExpress Program: 

We've designed and priced many 
of our products specifically for 
small and medium businesses. 
And best of all, they're available 
direct from IBM or through select 
IBM Business Partners. 



IBM ThinkPad Accessories 

Belkin Components Universal Motebook 

Travel Surge Protector 

#22P7127 $20 

Targus Deluxe Mobile Essentials Kit 

#22P7437 $60 

ThinkPad Premiere Leather Carrying Case" 

#10K0209 $99 

ThinkPad 72W AC/DC Combo Adapter 
#22P9010 $99 

ThinkPad Port Replicator II 
#74P6733 $179 



IBM ThinkCentre Accessories 

IBM 128MB USB 2.0 High-Speed 
Memory Key 
#22P9229 $59 

Lexmark X5270 All-in-One Printer 
#22P8808 $140 

IBM ThinkVision" L170 17" Flat Panel 
Monitor with system purchase 
#W9SPAB0 $449 



1 866 426-0064 ibm.com/shop/m444 



Ultrabay bay, if applicable: weight may vary due to vendor components, manufacturing process and options. (10) Thinness: may vary at certain points on the system. (11) ServicePac services: are available tor machines 
normally used for business, professional or trade purposes, rather than personal, family or household purposes. Service period begins with the equipment date of purchase. Service levels are response-time objectives and 
are not guarantees. If the machine problem turns out to be a Customer Replaceable Unit (CRU), IBM wil express ship the part to you for quick replacement. Onsite 24x7x2-hour service is not available in all locations. For 
ThinkPad notebooks requiring LCD or other component replacement, IBM may choose to perform service at the depot repair center. Calls must be received by 5pm local time in order to qualify tor Next Business Day Service, 
(12) Full-size keyboard: As defined by ISO/IEC 15412. (13) Battery Ilia: Based on manufacturers published figures or CNET com results for the top 5 vendors in 2003 notebook sales based on IDC data, as of 1/29/2004 
(14) Systems with limited onsite service: are designed to be repaired during the applicable warranty period primarily with customer-replaceable parts provided by IBM, IBM will only send a technician onsite to perform a 
repair if (a) remote telephone diagnosis and/or customer part replacement are unable to resolve the problem, or (b) the part is one of the few designated by IBM for onsite replacement. For a list of onsite replaceable parts, 
contact IBM. Support unrelated to a warranty issue may be subject to additional charges. (15) Certain IBM logo products: are not manufactured, warranted or supported by IBM; IBM logos and trademarks used under license 
Contact IBM for details (16) Wireless capahility: requires compatible wireless-enabled options, sold separately (17) Battery: These model numbers achieved the Zitt Davis Media, Inc.'s Business Winstone £ 2002 
BatteryMark™ Version 1 ,0 Battery Rundown Time of at least the time shown. This test was performed without independent verification by the VeriTest testing division of Lionbridge Technologies, Inc. ("VeriTesf ') or Zifl Davis 
Media, Inc.: neither Ziff Davis Media Inc., norVeriTest makes any representations or warranties as to disss Issl results, Winstone is a registered trademark and BatteryMark sa trademark of Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings 
Inc., in the U.S. and other countries. A description of the environment under which the test was performed isavailableatibm.com/pc/ww/thinkpad/hatterylife. Battery life (and recharge times) will vary based on many factors 
including screen brightness, applications, features, power management, battery conditioning and other customer preferences. Trademarks: The following are trademarks or registered trademarks of IBM Corporation: IBM, 
the IBM logo, ImageUltra, Lotus, NavCode, Rapid Restore, Rescue and Recovery, SmartSuite, ThinkCentre, ThinkPad, ThinkVanlage, ThinkVision, UltraConnect, UltraBase, Ultrabay and UltraNav. Microsoft and Windows are 
registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Intel, Intel Inside, Intel Inside logo, Intel Centrino, Intel Centring logo, Intel SpeedStep and Pentium are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its 
subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of other companies. © 2004 IBM Corporation. All rights reserved. 
Visit wim.ibm.cam/pc/salecomptflmg periodically for the latest information on safe and effective computing. 



Table Of Contents: Volume 2 • Issue 8 • August 2004 



r 






Cover Story 

Shareware 

For Windows 

If you're on a budget and don't have just the right software for the tasks at hand, or if 
you're simply looking for inexpensive ways to boost your Windows PC, check out this 
month's feature articles. We take a look at nine top shareware categories, including 
backup programs, compression utilities, shareware cleaners, email clients, browser man- 
agers, and Windows customization software. 

46 Hit, Download & Run 

The Wonderful World Of Shareware 

50 Back Up Your Data 

Keep Your Data Safe With A Better Backup Program 

52 CleanUp Time 

Make A File-Cleaning Program Do Your Dirty Work For You 

54 Zip It 

Put Your Files On A Diet 

56 Streamline Your Registry 

These Programs Can Safely Clean Your System's Database 

58 Mail Call 

Shareware Email Programs Expand Your Range Of Options 

60 Browser Managers 

Cover Your Tracks & Protect Your Privacy 

62 Keep Your Information Safe 

Password Proliferation Protection Pays 

64 Customize It 

Creative Screensavers Leave A Lasting Impression 

66 Time Is Money 

Beef Up Your System Clock 



Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United 
States and/or other countries. PC Today is not published in conjunction with Microsoft, and it has not been 
endorsed or sponsored by Microsoft. The use of the Microsoft and Windows trademarks in this publication 
does not represent participation in, or endorsement of, this publication by Microsoft. 




Sandhills 
Publishing- 



copyright 2004 by Sandhills Publishing Company. PC Today is a registered trademark of Sandhills Publishing 
Company. All rights reserved. Reproduction of material appearing in PC Today is strictly prohibited without 
written permission. Printed in the U.S.A. CST # 123482788RT0001. PC Today (ISSN 1040-6484) is published 
monthly for $29 per year by Sandhills Publishing Company, 131 West Grand Drive, P.O. Box 85380, Lincoln, 
NE 68501-5380. Subscriber Services: (800) 733-3809. Periodicals postage pending at Lincoln, NE. 
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to PC Today, P.O. Box 85380, Lincoln, NE 68501-5380. 



News, Views & Expert Advice 

Check out this section for the latest in operating system news, 
the scoop about recent Windows updates, and professional opin- 
ions from our expert columnists. 



8 



14 



16 



18 



20 



22 



24 



OS Wire 

The Latest Operating System News 

Update Tracker 

Your Guide To Windows 
Updates 



Scot's Take 

Us Users Should Stick 
Together 

Windows Warfare 

Batten Down All The 
Hatches, Not Just A Few 

IT Corner 

The Albini Theory 

Roadside Assistance 

Rehab, Not Retirement 

This Old Desktop 

What's Your Type? 




Ux/dii'lS 



r Ft2ick.8i 



Windows Boot Camp 

Whether you're new to Windows or are in the mood for a 
refresher course, this section is the perfect place to start for 
information about using Windows and Microsoft Office. 

26 Entry Level Windows 

Windows Explorer 

30 Start-To-Finish Guide 

Format An Excel 
Spreadsheet 

34 Crib Sheet 

Excel Formulas 

Experts Only 

Whether you're a battle-scarred PC veteran or a less experi- 
enced user looking to expand your horizons, this section has 
some practical advice that can help. 

36 Advanced Guide 

Clipboard & ClipBook Viewers 

40 Outside The Box 

Email Tricks: How To Use Email To Get Rid Of Spam 




Tips & Tweaks 



This department is your one-stop shop for productivity, 
system optimization, Web browsing, security, networking, 
mobile computing, and all sorts of other tips and tweaks. 



68 



70 



72 



75 



77 



79 



Work Smarter 

Tips For Increasing Productivity 

Optimization Central 

Tips & Tweaks For Improving Windows 

Surf Better 

Tips For Navigating The Internet 

Security & Networking 

Tips For Making Safe Connections 

PC Yesterday 

Tips For Maintaining Windows 
3.x/95 Systems 

Portable Windows 

Tips For Using Notebooks & 
Pocket PCs 



□cdcd 

i n ii i 



Previews & Reviews 

Whether you're on the lookout for new hardware or you're 
just curious about what's coming to computer store shelves 
near you, take a look at our previews of imminent items. 
Right after that check out our latest software reviews, in- 
cluding this month's head-to-head challenge. 

82 The Hardware Scene 

A Look At New & Upcoming Arrivals 




90 



96 



Financial Solutions 

A Comparison Of Intuit Quicken 2004 Premier & 
Microsoft Money 2004 Premium 



Software Reviews 

Flexigen Software 

Actual Doc Professional 2.0 
Caelo Software NEO 3.0 
Rampell Software 

ViewRemote 2.17 



e . j. Microsoft 

jj Money2004 

Premium 



After Five 



It's 5:01 and the workday is done. If you're ready to get more entertainment value out 
of your PC, this section is just for you. 

100 Your Turn 

Windows Media Player 9 Series Premium Services 



105 



Play Hard 

A Look Ac What's New In PC Gaming 




Last Bytes 



Every latte needs some froth. To top off this issue, here's our monthly blend of fun 
facts, statistics, and trivia. 



108 Last Bytes 



Correction 

In the "Mail Merge" article on page 24 of the June 2004 PC Today, we incorrectly asserted 
that there's no easy way to import Hotmail and MSN contact information into Outlook 
Express. In fact, after you follow the steps outlined in the article to access Hotmail and MSN 
mail through Outlook Express, you can import contact information by clicking Tools, Address 
Book, and then selecting Synchronize Now from the Address Book Tools menu. 



Web Services 

(For questions about our Web site.) 

webhelp@pctoday.com 

(800) 368-8304 

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by Jennifer Farwell 



Longhorn Stampede Continues; OS Goes Modular 



After months of relative quiet (and con- 
siderable industry speculation) in late 
2003 and early 2004 regarding Longhorn (the 
upcoming release of Windows), Microsoft 
continues to issue additional indicators re- 
lating to its future. In May, Microsoft released 
Longhorn Build 4074 (an updated, prerelease 
version for testing) to WinHEC attendees, the 
yearly Windows Hardware Engineering 
Conference. At the same time, Microsoft 
posted the build online and made it available 
for download to MSDN Universal customers. 

Microsoft earlier this year confirmed it 
would release the Longhorn desktop edition 
in mid-2006 even if it had to trim the feature 
set. More recently, Microsoft announced its 
roadmap for the Longhorn Server edition, 
which the company says will debut in 2007. 
The company plans to release the first beta 
of Longhorn Server in early 2005, with the 
second beta release coming in 2006. 

Of potentially greater interest than Long- 
horn Server's release date, however, is an an- 
nouncement regarding its modularity. With 
the release of the server OS, Microsoft plans 
to let users customize their boxes with self- 
contained modules rather than offering set, 




off-the-shelf models. (Microsoft currently of- 
fers four server editions: Web, Standard, 
Enterprise, and Data- 
center.) Components will 
be grouped together by 
roles (the job the server 
performs). Expected roles 
include Domain Name 
Server, File Server, 
Virtual Server, Branch 

Server, and others. 

Longhorn's desktop edition may also be 
modular, Microsoft says, but PC manufac- 
turers rather than consumers will make the 
call regarding each computer's role. 

Even with the added focus on Longhorn, 
Microsoft did not forgot to address its other 
server products. The company announced it 
would debut an update to Windows Server, 
code-named R2, in 2005 and release a second 
service pack for Windows Server 2003 in 2006. 
(The first service pack for Windows Server 
ships this year.) Additionally, Microsoft offi- 
cially pushed the release of Blackcomb, the 
successor to Longhorn Server, to 2010 or later. 
Microsoft originally planned to release 
Blackcomb as early as 2008. 1 



Pocket PC Heads For Space 

Microsoft's Windows Mobile 
Software for Pocket PC and 
the HP iPAQ on which it runs got a 
boost recently when NASA selected 
the devices for the Expedition 9 as- 
tronaut and cosmonaut crew to use 
while aboard the International Space 
Station. NASA subjected the iPAQ 
h5550 models to rigorous flight certi- 
fication testing, made minor requests 
for modifications (HP made the ad- 
justments), and pronounced the 

units ready for flight. 



Astronaut Edward M. (Mike) 
Fincke and other astronauts on 
the International Space Station 
will use iPAQ Pocket PCs as 
both productivity and 
entertainment devices. 



The crew can use the iPAQ Pocket 
PCs as combined productivity tools 
and entertainment devices. Using the 
Pocket PCs, the crew can check email 
and calendars, listen to music, and 
view photos from Earth. Ground 
support crew at NASA's Johnson 
Space Center and Russia's Star City 
Space Center will also use iPAQ 
Pocket PCs for crew training and 
evaluation. Future plans for the de- 
vices include outfitting them with 
barcode scanners and NASA-devel- 
oped software so crew members can 
use them to inventory equipment on 
the International Space Station. I 



Gates Proclaims Death Of The Floppy 



Microsoft Chairman and Chief 
Software Architect Bill Gates 
recently announced that the floppy 
diskette drive has reached the end of its 
lifetime. Gates was demonstrating the 
potential of key chain-sized USB (Uni- 
versal Serial 




conference when he made the pronounce- 
ment. "In some ways, I think this is the 
first time I can say that the floppy disk is 
dead. You know, we enjoyed the floppy 
disk, it was nice, it got smaller and 
smaller, but because of compatibility rea- 
sons, it sort of got stuck at the 1.44MB 
Bus) drives, level, and carrying them around, and 

often called having that big physical slot in machines, 

Memory that became a real burden." 

Keys, at a Gates was referring to the industry 

standard 1.44MB 
Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software diskette drive 
Architect Bill Gates recently proclaimed which users 
that the 1 .44MB floppy disk is dead. affectionately call 



floppies. Ironically, the true floppy — a 
5.25-inch flexible, removable diskette — 
has been defunct for more than a 
decade, replaced in 1981 by the rigid 
model that today's PCs read. Apple first 
caused a commotion in 1998 when it re- 
leased a diskette-less PC, thereby pro- 
claiming the demise of the medium for 
its customers. In 1999, Dell followed 
suit, stating it would no longer include 
diskette drives in default PC configura- 
tions. Nevertheless, Gates' proclamation 
may be premature. According to HP, it 
will include them in its computers as 
long as customers ask for them. I 



8 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



N 



ews, Views &C Expert Advice 




Sun Sets On Wireless Horizon For Microsoft 



Although Microsoft is solidly behind 
the adoption of wireless (Wi-Fi) 
technology for its desktop and mobile 
PCs, the company has discontinued 
most of its wireless hardware line. That 
line included base stations, notebook 
cards, and USB (Universal Serial Bus) 
and PCI (Peripheral Component 
Interconnect) devices for desktops. 

However, the company is not 
pulling its products from store 
shelves. Instead, it is letting vendors 
sell current stock and has agreed to 
support the products for a two-year 
warranty period. Consequently, you 
may be able to purchase what is basi- 
cally a defunct product throughout 
the remainder of 2004. 

The official line from Microsoft is 
that the company entered the Wi-Fi 



market with plans to improve the tech- 
nology's security and performance. 
Having accomplished that goal, 
Microsoft is withdrawing from devel- 
opment. However, critics suggest the 
withdrawal has more to do with lack- 
luster sales than altruism. 

Microsoft entered the wireless hard- 
ware market in September 2002. 
According to industry reports, 
Microsoft made early gains in market 
share but was losing momentum due to 
its sluggish adoption of the current gen- 
eration protocol, 802. llg. Microsoft in- 
troduced a USB version of its 802.11g 
device in February 2004 but had gener- 
ally lagged behind its competitors in re- 
leasing 802.11g products. Experts say 
802. llg is poised to become the stan- 
dard for wireless home networking. I 



Internet Advertising To Soar As PVRs Take Control 



With the release of Windows XP 
MCE (Media Center Edition), 
which incorporates PVR (personal 
video recorder) capabilities, television 
advertisers have gained yet another 
adversary. Advertisements are al- 
ready facing obliteration by PVR ser- 
vices such as TiVo, and WinXP MCE 
will only add fuel to their growing 
funeral pyre. 

According to media analysis firm 
Forrester Research, 63% of national 
advertisers plan to 
cut spending on 
television commer- 
cials by 20% or 
more over the next 
five years as PVR 
penetration in- 
creases. The report 
indicates that usage 
of PVR devices will 
increase tenfold (up 
from 3 million this 
year to 30 million) 
by that time. 
Advertisers plan to 
reduce spending on all 
fronts, including national 
and local ads on cable stations and 



networks. These advertisers say the 
TV industry must provide new, 
meaningful ways to measure an ad's 
reach if they hope to retain their 
placements. 

Of the advertisers interviewed, 
75% say they will boost budgets for 
Internet advertising, including banner 
ads and rich-media efforts. Another 
53% say they will invest in search 
engine marketing. I 




Will Windows XP Media 
Center Edition kill the 
PVR star? Gateway's 
Media Center 61 OXL is 
one of the most recent 
systems to use that OS. 





Current & Upcoming OSes 


2000 




Windows 2000 


March 2000 


Professional 




Windows Me 


December 2000 


2001 




Windows XP 


October 2001 


2002 




WinXP Media Center 


November 2002 


Edition 




2003 




WinXP Tablet PC 


February 2003 


Edition 




WinXP Media Center 


October 2003 


Edition 2004 




WinXP Service Pack 2 


December 2003 


Beta 




2004 




Windows Longhorn 


May 2004 


WinHEC 2004 Build 4074 




Bill Gates Proclaims 


May 2004 


Diskette Dead 




WinXP SP2 


July 2004 


2005 




Longhorn Desktop 


Mid-2005* 


and Server Beta 




2006 






Longhorn Desktop 


Mid-2006* 


Longhorn Server Beta 2 


Mid-2006* 


Windows 98/Me 


June 2006 


Extended Support Ends 




WinXP Home 


December 2006 


Extended Support Ends 




2007 




Win2000 Professional 


March 2007 


Extended Support Ends 




Longhorn Server 


2007* 


2008 




WinXP Professional 


December 2008 


Edition Extended 




Support Ends 




WinXP Tablet PC 


December 2008 


Extended Support Ends 




Windows Longhorn 


2008 or 2009 


Server Update and 




Service Pack Release 




2010+ 




Windows Blackcomb 






*Estimated 




PC Today / August 20( 




ews, Views & Expert Advice 



Windows CE-Based Foreign Language Translator Wins Military Excellence Award 



On Sept. 10, 2001, when Army Lt. Col. 
James Bass saw a demonstration of 
Phraselator, a handheld foreign-language 
translator, he immediately recognized the 
device's potential to save time for soldiers 
in the field. The following day when ter- 
rorists attacked the World Trade Center 
and the Pentagon, Bass, who was the pro- 
ject manager for the 
Phraselator tests, also 
realized that it could 
save lives. Bass con- 
vinced the Pentagon 
to fast-track the field 
implementation of the 
device. By March 
2002, the improved 
Phraselator was ready 
for duty. 

Now, the U.S. 
DARPA (Defense 
Advanced Research 
Projects Agency) 
has recognized the 
contribution of the 
Phraselator by 
awarding its developer, 
VoxTec, the SBIR (Small Business 
Innovation Research) Award. VoxTec, a di- 
vision of Marine Acoustics, developed the 
Phraselator in response to a call from 
DARPA to develop a medical translator for 



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the military. VoxTec suggested down- 
sizing the design, which was originally the 
size of a notebook, to fit in a soldier's palm. 

The first Phraselator, the Model 1100, 
was 4x6 inches and weighed 20 ounces. 
To use the device, English-speaking oper- 
ators spoke or touch-selected any of the 
3,500 available phrases. Phraselator in- 
stantly translated the phrases into one of 
30 languages, returning the results on- 
screen or via audio. If the response 
• was vocal, soldiers could connect 
Phraselator to a bullhorn to ask a 
group of people important ques- 
tions about humanitarian needs, 
infrastructure problems, safety 
threats, and other critical issues. 

The Phraselator has proved to be a 
powerful tool for the U.S. military 
serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Top right photo courtesy of Applied 
Data Systems. 

The Phraselator, which is 
now available to the public, 
runs on the Windows CE.NET 
4.2 OS. Windows Embedded 
Partner Applied Data Systems worked 
with VoxTec to develop the WinCE chip 
that powers Phraselator. The newest ver- 
sion, the P2, is approximately the same 
size as the 1100 yet has a phrase library 



of 15,000 commonplace phrases, which it 
can translate into 53 languages. The cur- 
rent military version has a library of 
20,000 phrases (which include special- 
ized military modules that deal with 
such threats as weapons of mass destruc- 
tion and land mines) that it can translate 
into 55 languages. I 




EA Thinks Inside The Xbox 

EA (Electronic Arts) apparently 
agrees with Microsoft that the Xbox 
Live online gaming service has a bright 
future. The company is committed to 
producing more than a dozen more Xbox 
Live titles over the next year, including 
Madden NFL 2005, Tiger Woods PGA 
TOUR 2005, NASCAR 2005: Chase For 
The Cup, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, and 
Need For Speed Underground 2. EA re- 
leased its first Xbox Live title, NCAA 
Football 2005, last month. 

Under the terms of its agreement with 
Microsoft, EA will not only offer the titles, 
but it also will expand its EA online com- 
munity by enabling existing Xbox Live 
friends to use the EA Messenger service for 
inter-gamer communication. According to 



Microsoft, more than a million people in 24 
countries have subscribed to the Xbox Live 
service since its inception less than two 
years ago. Gaining support from EA, the 
world's leading interactive game devel- 
oper, is an important step for Microsoft in 
its quest to compete in the online gaming 
market. EA, which is an Xbox developer, 
was the major hold-out among game devel- 
opers when Microsoft launched Xbox Live. 
In a separate announcement, Microsoft 
says it will introduce a new Xbox Live of- 
fering, Xbox Live Arcade, this fall. Xbox 
Live Arcade will offer a variety of board 
and puzzle games in addition to older ar- 
cade titles, such as DigDug and Pole 
Position, to Xbox Live players for approx- 
imately $10 each. I 




Microsoft's agreement with EA (Electronic 
Arts) means Xbox Live gamers will be able to 
play popular titles such as Tiger Woods PGA 
TOUR 2005. 



10 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



N 



ews, Views & Expert Advice 



V,. 




PCs Of The Future? 



For years, Microsoft has offered visions 
of a PC-enabled future where we in- 
teract with life via computers. This year 
will be no exception. The Redmond-based 
software giant has teamed with hardware 
vendor HP to produce new prototype PCs 
and PC concepts designed to streamline 
our home, office, and mobile environ- 
ments. In each case, HP is developing 
the hardware for a PC that showcases 
Microsoft's operating, communications, 
and collaborative technologies. 

The Windows home. Microsoft's 
Windows Home Concept is the latest iter- 
ation of its vision of integrated home com- 
puting. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has 
previously predicted that appliance and 
lighting management (such as the ability 
to turn on lights or start the coffeemaker 
from your PC) will be integral capabilities 
for the home PC of the future. However, 
this year's model focuses on entertain- 
ment and communication, more inter- 
esting and potentially more lucrative 
features that appeal to the entire family. 

WHC incorporates three PC styles 
(desktop, set-top, and tablet) running 
Windows XP MCE (Media Center 
Edition) in a networked, remote control- 
driven environment. The tablet PCs are 
touchscreen-enabled, fully mobile units 
that you can dock in the system or use on 
a standalone basis. For demonstration 
purposes, the Windows Home Concept 
also includes a 50-inch plasma high-reso- 
lution display with high-definition TV 
capabilities. In the proto- 
type, each PC 
station has an 
auxiliary screen 
with an over- 
sized, two-line, 
alphanumeric 
display to pro- 
vide "at-a-glance" infor- 
mation such as message 
alerts. At least one of the 
stations also acts as a 
Communication Dock, 
where family members can charge their 
docked tablet PCs and use them to in- 
teract with the system or display impor- 
tant data for family viewing. 




The entire setup has wired and wire- 
less connectivity to facilitate streaming 
media, VoIP (Voice over IP [Internet 
Protocol], or Internet calling), and other 
high-bandwidth options, as well as a mi- 
crophone and voice-command button to 
enable speech-based system navigation. 
With either a short spoken command, 
family members can schedule recordings, 
create and distribute customized song 
playlists, send messages, make phone 
calls, and more. 

The Windows Home 
Concept is still a few 
years from general avail- 
ability. In the interim the 
technology community will 
probably be placing bets on its via- 
bility. Several industry experts have 
predicted that the tablet PC concept 
is a dead horse, largely because the device 
is as expensive as a notebook PC, yet a 
tablet PC lacks the functionality of a 
notebook. It will be interesting to see if 
Microsoft succeeds in repositioning the 
tablet PC as a touchscreen multimedia 
device and rides it across the finish line. 
At the office. Another PC prototype 
Microsoft and HP are touting is Troy, an 
outgrowth of their Athens concept home 
PC that debuted in 2003. HP listened to 
criticisms about Athens, which con- 
sumers said placed too many controls on 
the keyboard, and moved them instead to 
a console located between the keyboard 
and the display. The console provides 
one-touch access 
to controls such 
as a volume knob 
and media ac- 
cess buttons, a 
docking station 




The Windows Home Concept includes 
a Wall Dock that family members can 
use to dock and charge their mobile 
tablet PCs and receive updates from 
the family network at the same time. 



for a handheld unit such as a Pocket PC, 
and an alert light to notify you of in- 
coming messages. 



HP and Microsoft intend Troy for col- 
laborative computing, where users in- 
teract with each other in real-time and 
exchange information on an ongoing 
basis. It could potentially be valuable to 
corporations, not only as a workstation 
solution for individual users, but also as 
a central docking 
station in satellite 
offices. Numerous 
mobile employees 
could use a single 
Troy unit to 
dock 

The Hermes con- 
cept notebook from HP 
and Microsoft features a removable 
display that has its own power supply. 

their handhelds at different times to re- 
ceive company information, participate 
in remote conferences, and exchange 
data with other users or their office PCs. 
According to HP and Microsoft, Athens 
and Troy are concepts whose designs 
the companies will incorporate into 
other future products rather than manu- 
facture them in their current states. 

Going mobile. The third component in 
HP and Microsoft's concept PC trifecta is 
Hermes, a mobile computing solution 
aptly named after the Greek god of travel 
and communication. The HP Hermes con- 
cept PC has no connection to Micro-Star 
International's Hermes PC, the Hermes 
Linux solution, or any of several technolo- 
gies called Hermes. Rather, it is a super- 
thin notebook cousin to Troy that offers 
office-collaboration capabilities. For ex- 
ample, you can separate the display from 
the notebook and place it elsewhere for 
easy group viewing. 

Additionally, Hermes features a small 
pop-out display hidden under the HP 
label that you can employ to launch 
multimedia presentations staged on the 
main display. According to HP, designs 
that evolve from Hermes will also have 
a pop-out video camera, valuable for re- 
mote conferencing, and a pop-out 
earbud for VoIP calls. I 



PC Today / August 2004 11 




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^ I 

Windows ^ 

}rjc\i\ r^ 



Your Guide To Windows Updates 



by Rachel Derowitsch 



We knew something was horribly 
wrong when our PC kept shut- 
ting down and restarting without 
warning just a few minutes after we 
turned it on. It didn't matter what pro- 
gram we were attempting to run; some 
indiscriminating intruder was having its 
way with the system. 

Our only clue to the nature of the 
trouble was a system shutdown message 
that told us an executable file named 
Isass.exe in our C:\WINNT\SYSTEM 32 
folder "terminated unexpectedly." 

The mystery cleared itself up immedi- 
ately as soon as we visited the Windows 
Update Web site and saw the message, 
prominently displayed on the home 
page, about the Sasser Worm. Thank- 
fully, we were able to stay online long 
enough to download the tool to remove 
this nasty little worm. And in just a few 
moments, our problem was resolved. 

Our encounter with one of the Sasser 
Worm variants illustrates well how the 
Windows Update Catalog can work for 
you. (Read our evaluation of the Sasser 



Worm update below.) It works even better 
when you use the site frequently because 
many updates are meant to fix problems 
before they become a problem to you. 



» 



Windows XP 

835732 Security Up- 
date For Windows XP 
(2.6MB). This critical up- 
date corrects a large number of recently 
discovered vulnerabilities in WinXP. Not 
every vulnerability described in the ac- 
companying Knowledge Base article ap- 
plies to WinXP, but 10 of them do. 

Many of the vulnerabilities involve po- 
tential buffer overruns, specifically in 
LSASS (Local Security Authority Sub- 
system Service); the PCT (Private Com- 
munications Transport) protocol for SSL 
(Secure Sockets Layer)-enabled systems; 
the Windows logon process; Windows 
Metafile and Enhanced Metafile image 
rendering; and in H.323, a protocol used 
with NetMeeting. All of these buffer 
overrun vulnerabilities could allow a po- 
tential attacker to gain control over the 



victim's system. This update also corrects 
the flawed way in which the Help And 
Support Center attempts to validate data 
input and a DoS (denial of service) vul- 
nerability in the Microsoft ASN.l (Ab- 
stract Syntax Notation One) library. 

For WinXP users, this update, which 
can be uninstalled, replaces the update re- 
leased with security bulletin MS04-007. 

837001 Security Update For Win- 
dows XP (2.8MB). The Microsoft Jet 
Database Engine is the power behind 
Microsoft Access, the database manage- 
ment program included in some ver- 
sions of Microsoft Office and sold as 
a standalone product. It also helps 
run Microsoft Visual Basic and some 
non-Microsoft programs. 

Version 4 of Jet contains a buffer 
overrun vulnerability. If someone sent a 
specially coded request to a system run- 
ning Jet, he could cause a buffer overrun 
where data meant for one buffer over- 
flows into a buffer it shouldn't be in, cor- 
rupting the data. The result is that the 
attacker could gain as much control over 
the system as the person logged on to it 
has; if the victim has full privileges, the 
attacker could do such things as install 
software, manipulate data, and create 
accounts on the affected system. 

This update, which Microsoft labels 
"important," changes the way Jet handles 
requests to the database. In addition, it 
contains all the previous updates in- 
cluded in Jet 4.0 SP8 (Service Pack 8). 
Therefore, if you have not installed SP8, 
you won't need to if you download and 
install this update. 

Windows 2000/XP 

841720 Sasser (A-D) Worm Removal 
Tool (109KB). Even if you're a cautious 
person, chances are good that your com- 
puter has tangled with the Sasser Worm. 
This one isn't spread via email but instead 
takes advantage of a flaw in Windows. 

Anyone who installed update 835732 
(see below) and has a firewall is likely 
immune from the Sasser Worm. If that 
doesn't describe you, at least you can in- 
stall the Sasser Worm Removal Tool. 
This is the second removal tool 
Microsoft released. The first version re- 
moved Sasser. A and Sasser. B; the 



14 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



N 



ews, Views & Expert Advice 




h c ■ . B - » vte 







Microsoft went the extra mile on its 
Windows Update Web site to warn users of 
the existence of the Sasser Worm and the 
worm removal tool. 

second removes those two plus Sasser.C 
and Sasser.D. 

This removal tool should quickly rid 
your system of the Sasser Worm, regard- 
less of the variant. However, it alone 
won't protect you from getting the 
worm again. So install update 835732 
and make sure your firewall and /or an- 
tivirus program is up-to-date. If you 
have a current antivirus program in- 
stalled, it also should be able to remove 
the Sasser Worm from your system. 

Windows 98/Me 

Root Certificates Up- 
date (204KB). You may 

not be aware that your 
system contains a list of 
trusted root certificates. 
(To view this list, open 
Internet Explorer and 
click Tools, Internet 
Options, Content, and Certificates.) 
Certificates are electronic identifiers and 
are often used with private keys to pro- 
tect your personal information and verify 
your identity to Web sites and those to 
whom you send email messages. Web 
sites also use root certificates to verify 
their identity to users. 

This recommended download, 
which you cannot uninstall, updates 
the list of root certificates that are ac- 
cepted as part of Microsoft's Root 
Certificate Program. (This update is a 
more recent version of the one we re- 
viewed in the April issue of PC Today, 
page 11.) They come from certificate 
authorities such as VeriSign and 
Thawte. After you install the update, it 




will broaden your ability to enjoy 
secure Web browsing and use of 
encrypted email. 

All Systems 

831167 Critical Update For Internet 
Explorer 6 SP1 (378KB). Sometimes 
when we correct a problem we create 
another. Case in point is the story be- 
hind this update. 

In the May's "Windows Update" 
(page 12), we told you about update 
832894, the Cumulative Security Update 
For Internet Explorer. This download 
corrected three newly discovered vul- 
nerabilities, as well as dealt with older 
issues. However, if you installed either 
this update or the hotfix 821814, you 
may have unwittingly created another 
problem for yourself. 

Both 832894 and 821814 altered the 
way in which a computer interacts with 
a Web server when the server resets the 
connection established between the 
two. Sometimes everything works as it 
should; however, with either of these 
updates installed, you may see an 
HTTP 500 (Internal Server Error) Web 
page when trying to access Web 
servers protected with either SSL or 
TLS (Transport Layer Security) 3.0 con- 
figured in a certain way. SSL and TLS 
are both protocols that ensure privacy 
and security for data transmissions 
over the Internet. 

So, while it's possible you may not 
encounter an error due to the previous 
updates, this new update will ensure 
that is the case. 

837009 Cumulative Security Update 
For Outlook Express (size varies). It's 
not uncommon for Windows users to 
bypass the default Outlook Express and 
opt for another email program. How- 
ever, even if you are using a different 
email application, you are still at risk 
from a new vulnerability discovered in 
Outlook Express (versions 5.5 SP2, 6, 
and 6 SP1 for 32-bit and 64-bit com- 
puters) if one of those versions is in- 
stalled on your system. 

The flaw involves the manner in 
which Outlook Express handles 
MHTML (MIME Encapsulation Of 
Aggregate HTML) URLs. MHTML is 



an Internet standard that sets the para- 
meters for the MIME (Multipurpose 
Internet Mail Extensions) structure 
used to transmit HTML data in email 
messages. An attacker could exploit 
this vulnerability either by enticing a 
user to click a link on a specially de- 
signed Web site or to view a specially 
created HTML email. Then, he could 
execute HTML code on the victim's 
system, specifically in the Local 
Machine security zone. (Click Tools, 
Internet Options, and Security while in 
IE to manage your security zones.) This 
would allow the attacker to have the 
same privileges on the system as the 
user has. 

This critical update, which can be 
uninstalled if necessary, replaces pre- 
vious cumulative security updates for 
Outlook Express. 

Update For Windows Media Player 9 
Series (size varies). You may have no- 
ticed sluggish performance when using 
WMP 9 Series to copy media files to a 
portable device. As you add items to the 




As Window Media Player 9's Media Library fills 
up, you may encounter sluggish performance 
when copying files to a portable device. 

Media Library (which contains your 
music and audio files, favorite playlists, 
radio stations, and more), the time it 
takes to copy files to the other device 
may increase, as well. 

Not all users will experience this 
problem, so Microsoft suggests that you 
download and apply this hotfix only if 
this problem is serious for you. 
Microsoft intends to release another 
hotfix in the future that will be for all 
WMP 9 users. 

This recommended update is for 
Win98SE/Me/XP. per 



PC Today / August 2004 15 



Scot's Take 



Commentary by Scot Finnie 




Scot Finnie is the editor of 
SecurityPipeline.com, editor at 
TechWeb.com, and author of 
Scot's Newsletter. He has 
served as managing editor for 
Windows Magazine and 
editor for several other 



Us Users Should 
Stick Together 

What Do You Do 
When Your PC Acts Up? 



Catch up with Scot at his 
newsletter Web site 
(www.scotsnewsletter.com) or 
send him feedback at 
scoWpctoday.com. 




Sooner or later every- 
one runs into a tough- 
nut problem with his 
PC hardware, operating 
system, or applications. 
The fact is, most of us 
have had this happen 
many times. If you're the 
kind of person who keeps track 
of such things instead of trying 
your best to ignore them, you've 
probably come to the conclusion that 
there's something wrong with PCs most of 
the time. And some small percentage of 
those problems turns out to be serious. 

What you're supposed to do when your com- 
puter gets in trouble and what actually works are 
often two very different things. Why? Technical 
support is one of the costliest operations for soft- 
ware and hardware companies. Most computer 
companies don't offer anywhere near ideal levels of 
support. You count yourself lucky if you get a 
problem solved; never mind how long you 
had to wait on hold, how many calls it 
took to get the deed done, or how 
many times you were told by 
one company that some other 
company's products were the 
cause of the problem. 

In over 20 years of everyday 
Desktop PC use, my process of 
troubleshooting PC issues has 
evolved to the point where I 
can rapidly diagnose and 
solve most computer miscues. 

And you don't have to be a computer magazine writer 
to attain those skills: Millions of other people are at 
that level or on their way to it. But that doesn't mean 
that I've never met a problem that was tough to fix. 




Norton Antivirus Automatic 
LiveUpdate Doesn't 

My last long-term computer problem stumped me 
for upward of two years. On three different produc- 
tion computers using multiple recent versions of 
Norton Antivirus, Symantec's Automatic Live- 
Update feature, designed to automatically check for, 
download, and install the latest antivirus defini- 
tions, would mysteriously stop working. It always 
worked manually. But the routine Symantec uses to 
check for an Internet connection, called NetDetect, 
failed to operate properly. NetDetect is scheduled to 
run every few minutes using the Windows Task 
Scheduler applet. Because NetDetect has to succeed 
before Automatic LiveUpdate goes to work, the ma- 
chines with this problem weren't able to check for 
updates. Worse, there was no error message or indi- 
cation that Automatic LiveUpdate wasn't working. 

Even though this is a simple computer problem 
at its core, it is profound in that it leaves computers 
unprotected against the latest 
viruses, unless the Automatic 
LiveUpdate runs manually. I 
was at least aware that I was 
unprotected, but I wonder 
how many people out there 
are not. Symantec's tech 
support people were unable 
to truly fix the problem the 
first time I called them in 
late 2002. They fixed it tem- 
porarily by deleting the 
NetDetect Task Scheduler item and then 
reinstating the service with Norton Anti- 
Virus' Options settings. I was able to repeat that 
later, but by the time Norton Antivirus 2004 came 
around, the problem returned so quickly that I 
stopped "fixing" it and just focused on remem- 
bering to run LiveUpdate manually. 



A Microsoft patch for Task Scheduler 
eventually fixed the problem, but this re- 
quired a call to Microsoft tech support. 
Symantec contacted me about this patch 
and procured it for me. That's special 
treatment few us receive, of course. 
Symantec has also identified other steps 
you should first try if you have this 
problem. For more information on all 
possible fixes to this problem, including 
links to Symantec knowledge base arti- 
cles on the subject, please see this Scot's 
Newsletter article: www.scotsnewsletter 
.com/56.htm#mstspatch. Also, check out 
this Scot's Newsletter Forums thread: 
forums.scotsnewsletter.com/index.php? 
act=ST&f=10&t=6786&hl. 

Help Yourself 

After I wrote the April 26 newsletter 
article referenced above, I received mes- 
sages from several subscribers thanking 
me for the information because it solved 
the same problem on their PCs. Shared 
knowledge is the key to solving problems 
like this. One of the things I've noticed 
after a decade of writing Web columns 
and email newsletters (both of which con- 
nect directly to my mailbox via a pub- 
lished email address) is that millions of 
computer users battle problems alone, 
when very often there are thousands of 
other people who've faced the same 
issue, and some of them have worked 
through to the solution. 

Few of us can repair a blown head 
gasket or replace a worn strut on our au- 
tomobiles. But if you could do that, 
saving hundreds of dollars in the 
process, you might be tempted. It's actu- 
ally easier to do it yourself with a com- 
puter, and it's also a lot less messy. Each 
time you succeed it gets easier to ad- 
dress the next problem. The first thing to 
do is answer a few questions. Just what 
problem do you have? What are the spe- 
cific symptoms? What software and 
hardware products are directly in- 
volved? The next step is to eliminate 
variables. Is there anything you can try 



that might eliminate possible causes? 
For example, if you're having trouble 
printing, does the prob-lem happen 
when you're printing in two different 
applications or only a specific one? If 
you have second printer available to 
you, does the problem happen with both 
printers? If you have two computers, 
does the problem happen with both? 
Being specific about what's wrong and 
taking the time to eliminate variables 
can save a lot of time. 

Tip: Most computer woes boil down 
to some sort of conflict between software 
or hardware products. Ask yourself: 
When did the problem start? And what 
changes were made to your computer 
(such as hardware or software up- 
grades) right before the trouble began? 

After you narrow your problem to a 
few products, identify the product ved- 
nors and rate them in terms of which is 
most likely to have caused a problem. 
Start your research with the most likely 
vendor's tech support Web site. If 
there's a search tool there, try to con- 
dense the problem to two or three words 
and search for them. If that doesn't turn 
up the answer, call the company and 
calmly describe your problem. For some 
problems, you may have to try more 
than one vendor. 

Together We're Stronger 

When company tech support doesn't 
have the answer, take matters into your 
own hands to find the fix. It's not un- 
common for smart users to have figured 
out solutions to problems long before 
the tech support departments. 

Use Google (www.google.com) to 
search the entire Web for your problem. 
Force yourself to check out at least 
the first 50 results. (Sometimes there's 
a gem waiting there, but you may 
have to dig for it.) Beyond Google, your 
goal should be to open a channel with ex- 
perienced computer users who may have 
licked the same problem. Here are some of 
the resources you should try to connect to: 



• A computer user group in your area 

• Product-specific Usenet newsgroups 

• Problem/solution or product-oriented 

Web-based forums 

• Problem/solution or product-oriented 

email newsletters 

• Product-specific or computer help Web 

sites 

• Subscribe to PC Today and other com- 

puter magazines 

• An expert friend or acquaintance who 

may know about the best tech help re- 
sources 

• A reputable computer repair shop 

With newsgroups, forums, and (to a 
lesser extent) newsletters, you have the 
chance to work interactively. Post a de- 
tailed description of your problem in a 
newsgroup or forum. Or email the de- 
scription to a newsletter author, but 
don't be disappointed if you don't get a 
response. The best way to get a dialog 
going with someone who can actually 
help connect you to a solution is to do 
your homework and find a newsgroup, 
forum, or newsletter author whose 
focus is closely related to your problem. 

Let me add one more wrinkle: Those 
of us who unearth or figure out solu- 
tions to tough problems should make it 
a point to get the word out. Send it to a 
newsletter author who publishes reader 
mail, post it in a Web forum or news- 
group, send it to a company's tech sup- 
port department, or write a letter to the 
editor of PC Today. Working together to 
solve problems, we're much more pro- 
ductive and far more satisfied with our 
PCs than we are apart. 

Program note: I've talked about an 
upcoming in-depth review of Windows 
XP Service Pack 2 for the last couple of 
issues. Microsoft has delayed the re- 
lease of the ambitious service pack 
until "sometime later this summer." As 
a result, we're awaiting the arrival of a 
late release candidate before we 
schedule that review. We will do no re- 
view before its time. But rest assured, 
we will do that review. I 




PC Today / August 2004 17 



Windows Warfare 



Commentary by Christian Perry 




Christian Perry is a long-time 
contributor to Smart 
Computing magazine and its 
sister publications, the Smart 
Computing Learning Series (no 
longer in print) and the Smart 
Computing Reference Series. 
Please send your feedback to 
christian@pctoday.com. 



Batten Down 

All The Hatches, 

Not Just A Few 




After a rash of recent 
neighborhood break- 
ins, Tony decides to ditch his 
house's old wooden doors 
for new steel-clad ver- 
sions, secure them with 
double-cylinder deadbolts, and 
reinforce his double-hung win- 
dows with nails. Convinced his house 
is now nothing short of a residential 
fortress, Tony leaves for vacation, only to 
return a week later to a burglarized home. 
Despite his efforts to secure it, he forgot about the 
fragile basement windows that couldn't deter a 
squirrel, let alone a crafty thief. Lesson learned. 

Proactive Protection 

Just as burglars can easily identify several points of 
entry into a house, crackers can list plenty of ways to 
penetrate a computer, but some aren't always as ob- 
vious as others. You know that viruses can easily infect 
your computer by masquerading as safe email attach- 
ments and that unprotected network ports can invite 
hoards of rogue travelers from cyberspace. In turn, you 
regularly update your antivirus utility with the latest 
virus definitions and keep your firewall running every 
second you're online. You also know that Windows is 
vulnerable to security problems, so you instruct the op- 
erating system to automatically notify you when new 
critical updates are available. (After all, it seems that 
someone discovers a new Windows security problem 
just about every month.) So now that you covered all 
the security bases, you can merrily traverse the Internet 
without fear of crackers rifling through your data and 
taking what they want. Right? Wrong. 

Computer security doesn't end with antivirus up- 
dates, Windows updates, and efficient firewall opera- 
tion. Just as the vulnerable basement windows on 



Tony's house, PCs have their own Achilles' heels, and 
they're right under your eyes. Everyday programs and 
utilities such as Nullsoft's Winamp (www.winamp 
.com), Adobe Acrobat Reader (www.adobe.com), and 
others might seem pretty safe to the average user, but 
to crackers, they represent vast plains of devious 
opportunity. Despite the headlines that seem to tell a 
different story, Windows isn't the only program sus- 
ceptible to security leaks. Crackers regularly target pro- 
grams of all shapes, sizes, prices, and uses, scouring 
their code for any weaknesses that can allow access into 
the computers of unsuspecting users. 

Extension Vulnerabilities 

For example, UK-based NGSSoftware (www.ngssoft 
ware.com) recently exposed a buffer overflow vulnera- 
bility inherent to outdated versions of Acrobat Reader. 
Although other utilities are available that allow you 
to read PDF (Portable Document Format) files, most 
people use the free Acrobat Reader, which means 
crackers have a nice big pool of users to attack. Because 
a buffer overflow could allow crackers complete access 
to all the information on your computer, it's considered 
one of the most severe attacks around. What's worse, 




it's not difficult at all for crackers to set the 
trap in motion. The vulnerability lies in 
Acrobat Reader's ability to handle XFDF 
(XML [Extensible Markup Language] 
Forms Data Format), so you only need to 
click a malicious XFDF email attachment 
or visit a Web site hosting a malicious 
XFDF file. 

NGSSoftware also revealed a security 
hole in that free, friendly, wildly popular 
media player, Winamp. By coaxing users 
to visit a malicious Web site, crackers can 
take advantage of a problem spawned by 
Winamp's handling of XM (Fasttracker II) 
media files. If Winamp is configured as 
the default player for XM files, crackers 
can launch a customized Web page that 
allows them to overtake the Winamp 
connection to the page and run mali- 
cious code on the victim's computer. The 
Winamp problem isn't avoidable by 
simply dodging files with an .XM exten- 
sion because Winamp can test media files 
it doesn't recognize by extension and run 
them when they are recognized. 

Let's imagine for a moment you never 
use Acrobat Reader or Winamp, in which 
case I'd kindly ask that you give my best 
to your relatives on Mars. But what about 
WinZip? CNET's Download.com reports 
a whopping 116.7 million downloads of 
the compression utility, so if you don't 
use it, someone you know definitely does. 
Unfortunately, outdated versions include 
a security hole that could compromise 
your data. If you use a version of WinZip 
ranging between 6.1 and 8.1 to handle any 
type of MIME (Multipurpose Internet 
Mail Extension), you could be vulnerable 
to a buffer overflow attack. Examples of 
MIME-encoded data files are those with 
extensions such as .MIM, .UUE, .UU (both 
UUE and UU are Uuencode extensions), 
.B64, .BHX, .HQX (both BHX and HQX 
are BinHex extensions), and .XXE. 

Make The Best Of A 
Bad Situation 

This isn't the first time exploits sur- 
faced in these programs, and it probably 



won't be the last. Buffer overflow scares 
infiltrated the Winamp community sev- 
eral times over the past few years, and the 
exploits don't always target the same area 
or technology within the same program. 
Acrobat Reader has a similarly dark his- 
tory; in fact, any program that can connect 
to the Internet can contain potentially 
dangerous holes that crackers will find 
sooner than later. Most software devel- 
opers try their best to tighten their pro- 
gram code before releasing their software 
to avoid security breaches, but as long as 
humans develop software, software users 
will occasionally suffer as a result of 
human error and sloppiness. 

Nonetheless, software exploits aren't 
always the direct fault of programmers 
and other software developers. Where 
error and sloppiness aren't issues, the un- 
known remains an intriguing area for 
crackers, as shown by exploits that some- 
times appear in parts of programs that no 
one ever imagined they could appear in in 
the first place. 

When you buy a house, it's your re- 
sponsibility to secure it. Even if you install 
a state-of-the-art, motion-detecting alarm 
system, you still must operate it to a de- 
gree and watch for potential problems 
with the technology. The same require- 
ments befall you as a PC user. Not only 
should you employ the usual antivirus 
and firewall protection, but you should 
also shore up other potential hazards be- 
cause there's little use in locking your 
front door if someone can just as easily 
jump in through a basement window. 

As time-consuming and confusing as 
comprehensive system security sounds, 
it's really not that much of a burden. As a 
general rule, check for program updates 
or new versions of your programs regu- 
larly. This applies also to installed pro- 
grams you don't use. This may sound 
nonsensical, but consider this: You never 
really seem to read PDF files, so you don't 
update your copy of Acrobat Reader you 
installed ages ago. You're tooling a- 
long on the Web one evening and click an 



interesting link, and suddenly the Acrobat 
Reader splash screen emerges on your 
screen, followed by a document that 
opens in the utility itself. Although you 
might not purposely open certain pro- 
grams, you never know when a file you 
access will try to open one of them for 
you. Further, the less popular a program, 
the less likely you'll hear about a new ex- 
ploit that targets the program, which is 
even more reason to check for updates. In 
a sense, Windows spoils us by automati- 
cally alerting us when updates are avail- 
able, but few other programs include 
similarly effective automatic features. 

To help stay on top of updates, create a 
shortcut folder in your browser that in- 
cludes links to update Web pages for all 
your software. Once every month, check 
those links to see if updates or new ver- 
sions are available, and if they are, down- 
load and install them. You can also check 
the options in the programs themselves to 
see if they'll automatically check for up- 
dates each time you start the program or 
at an interval you select. After you down- 
load and install updates, check the pro- 
gram to make sure it's actually updated. 
For example, in Acrobat Reader click the 
Help menu, click About Adobe Reader, 
and check that the version number on the 
splash screen matches the version number 
of the update you downloaded. 

It's Not Always Black & White 

Keeping your programs updated 
not only ensures a secure environment, 
but it also deters other errors and an- 
noyances. As computers and networks 
increasingly intermingle, we'll see a 
continued blurring of the line between 
security and performance because we 
tackled that pesky "slow PC" problem 
years ago. In the future, we might not 
measure a PC's superiority by its speed 
as much by its ability to fend off net- 
work-based attacks. In essence, by se- 
curing all of your PC's entry points now, 
you're already one step into the security- 
focused mindset of tomorrow. I 




PC Today / August 2004 19 



IT Corner 



Commentary by Serdar Yegulalp 



Serdar 
Yegulalp 

runs the 
Windows 
2000 Power 
Users Web site (www 
. win2kpowerusers.com) and au- 
thors the weekly Windows 2000 
Power Users Newsletter. Serdar 
was a regular contributor to Win- 
dows Magazine and served as 



Winmag.com. Serdar's most re- 
cent book is "Windows Server 
Undocumented Solutions: 
Beyond The Knowledge Base. " 
You can email your feedback to 
serdar@pctoday.com. 



The Albini Theory 





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m !innimiiwn*,TnwwKJl«iTjiii 




i i\ 1 n ui rfinaiAri t mtr 



Back in the '90s, recording engineer Steve Albini 
wrote a widely circulated essay titled "The 
Problem with Music." What he wrote then applies, in 
retrospect, to computers as much as it does to music. 

In the essay, Albini lambasted (among many other 
things) DAT (digital audio tape) as having done terrible 
damage to the music we all have to listen to. Because 
DAT machines are relatively inexpensive and easy to 
use compared to the big multitrack machines used in 
most recording studios, anyone with an interest in 
recording tends to pick one up. And few studios today 
lack a DAT deck. This, Albini argued, "make[s] it pos- 
sible for morons to make a living" using them, and the 
results (ruined album masters, terrible-sounding pro- 
duction, and so on) speak for themselves. He went on 
to say that tape machines (and much of recording gear) 
should be deliberately left cumbersome, expensive, and 
difficult to use in order to keep the riffraff out. 

Call it the Albini Theory. Keep technology hard to 
work with so that the people who do use it will have at 
least some level of competence, and they won't make 
irresponsible mistakes. 

This isn't the predominant opinion, though. For 
years, the way Microsoft and Apple have chosen to do 
things in the PC world has been the guiding philos- 
ophy: Keep things outwardly simple, direct, and easy 



to understand, and people will eagerly jump on board. 
Not all of them will rise to the level of experts, but by 
keeping the initial learning curve high you'll avoid 
scaring off many people who might otherwise be- 
come experts. 

These two philosophies (Keep It Simple and Keep It 
Difficult, or keep the learning curve high) are at war 
today, although it's a very quiet war. Still, the shots 
being fired and the shells landing are having an impact, 
however small, in the way we use our PCs. 

Not Really All That Simple 

On the one hand we have Windows, which would 
outwardly seem to fall in the Keep It Simple camp. For 
expert users it feels like the exact opposite. Windows' 
GUI (Graphical User Interface) and controls make it 
easy to get to things (provided you know where they 
are), but with each successive edition of Windows, 
Microsoft makes less of the system available to users. 

In many ways, Microsoft is moving toward a posi- 
tion where users will never be treated like experts. In 
the Windows versions available today, Microsoft has 
installed enough roadblocks that it's only possible for 
users to perform certain not-terribly-uncommon things 
with Windows by hacking it, sometimes in sanction- 
able ways (Registry changes) and sometimes not 



20 August 2004 / www.pctoday.c 



(replacing core system components with 
hacked versions). 

At the extreme opposite end of the 
spectrum is Linux, which is totally open 
and malleable. That said, Linux has a 
steep learning curve, even for distribu- 
tions that have user-friendly setup and 
configuration routines. If you don't know 
what you're doing, you really can mess 
things up — but the majority of Linux 
users resent being condescended to by 
having things locked away from them. 
They would rather learn the hard way, 
make their own mistakes, and achieve 
their own rewards. Gentoo Linux, one of 
my favorite distributions, is my favorite 
precisely for this reason. When it is in- 
stalled, you must compile everything — 
kernel, support tools, the whole tamale- 
and-enchilada — from scratch. Yes, it 
requires a great investment of effort just 
to get things up and running, but once 
you do, it's yours. You can compile every- 
thing to spec, leaving in everything you 
need and nothing you don't. 

With Windows, though, sometimes 
making the simplest of changes requires 
breaking the rules. 

For Safety's Sake? 

On a less esoteric level, there is the 
problem of how this philosophy affects 
Windows security. As I write this, the 
Sasser worm is tearing up hundreds of 
thousands of Windows-based computers 
across the Internet. Part of the problem is 
that it exploits Microsoft's own System 
Restore technology, which was designed 
to prevent corruption of system compo- 
nents when they're tampered with. The 
only way to get rid of the worm is to turn 
System Restore off first, which seems to 
me to defeat the purpose. (Many common 
Trojan horses deposit executables directly 
into the system directory and get away 
with it. They're not overwriting or re- 
placing anything half the time, so no 
alarm bells sound.) 

Microsoft claims that many of the tech- 
nological improvements it puts into 
Windows are designed to make the OS 



safer. What's most annoying is that obfus- 
cations such as the use of digital signa- 
tures on system components don't seem 
to have made Windows any safer. 
Obfuscation, in this case, seems to be 
counterproductive. Not only has it made 
Windows no more secure, it has made it 
harder to repair when system compo- 
nents are hidden and attempts to modify 
them are prohibited. 

Naturally, Linux users despise this sort 
of thing. They want to see everything 
right now, and heaven forbid anyone 
should prevent them from changing any- 
thing. System File Protection? Not on my 
machine, sir! If they want to substitute in 
hand-hacked DLLs (dynamic-link library) 
files for the real thing, they don't want to 
have to trick the machine into doing it. 

It's a laudable sentiment, and I share 
it myself. Even though I'm a longtime 
Windows user (I've had Windows on 
one or another of my computers since 
Windows 3.0 came out, and many of my 
favorite applications are Windows-only), 
my feelings about it have been closer 
to those of a Linux user in many ways. 
When I sit down to do my work in 
Windows, I want to be able to accomplish 
everything with a minimum of fuss. I 
want to plug in my hardware and have it 
work without messing with anything. I 
want to run the applications I'm familiar 
with. And I want to be able to find every- 
thing without too much trouble. But if I 
want to customize or modify Windows to 
better suit my needs, I shouldn't be arbi- 
trarily blocked from doing so. 

Unfortunately, there's growing senti- 
ment among technology companies to 
preemptively treat the user like a crim- 
inal. There's invidious copy protection 
that renders software all but unusable 
even to its legitimate users (Product 
Activation, anyone?), and the general 
feeling that the consumer doesn't — or 
shouldn't — care about tinkering with 
what they bought. Tell that to the guys 
who spend bundles of money to trick out 
their cars far beyond factory spec. They 
have no intention of stopping just because 



someone waggles their fingers and in- 
vokes the specter of a voided warranty. 

In retrospect, Albini's words almost 
seem rational. Maybe there is such a thing 
as keeping things too simple. Maybe it's 
better for users, in the long run, to learn 
more earlier on so they don't shoot them- 
selves in the foot. Maybe it'll mean fewer 
computer users, but the ones that exist 
will be better educated. 

Seeking A Happy Medium 

The problem is I can't make myself be- 
lieve that. Computers (and by extension, 
the Internet) have put an amazing amount 
of power into the hands of ordinary folks 
in great part because manufacturers have 
made computers much more accessible 
over the years. To suddenly turn around 
and say, "No, you're too stupid to use 
them!" smacks of the worst sort of elitism. 

Because I have a foot in both camps 
(wanting to both Keep It Simple and Keep 
It Difficult) my feelings are strongly 
divided. Yes, we need to be able to make 
expert-level hacks to our systems, if only 
because it's a moral imperative. You 
never know when things will go so wrong 
that they require divine intervention. To 
assume that your PC (and your operating 
system) will always know what to do in 
the event of a crisis, even the vast majority 
of crises, is hubris. Sometimes you have to 
trust the user to do the right thing. I'd 
like to see Microsoft have one place in 
Windows where you could go to manu- 
ally turn off all those annoying prohibi- 
tions, including System File Protection, 
and make it something that couldn't be 
tripped through a script or some other un- 
derhanded mechanism. At the same time, 
the PC needs to be functional. Sometimes 
you just want to turn it on and work. 

In my mind there should be no reason 
why the two philosophies should be at 
odds. Albini was writing about music 
production, but not everyone enters a 
recording studio. The majority of us, how- 
ever, have to deal with a computer in 
some way. Having it both easy and acces- 
sible shouldn't be a contradiction. I 



PC Today / August 2004 21 




Roadside Assistance 



Commentary by Dave Methvin 



Rehab, Not 
Retirement 



technology officer of PC 
Pitstop, a free site that 
automatically diagnoses 
and fixes common PC 
problems. Contact Dave at 
dave@pctoday.com 



A lot of perfectly service- 
able PCs are put out to 
pasture, often because 
people think they are too 
slow or not worth repairing. 
Sure, an old Pentium II 
won't play the latest games 
at lightning speed, but it still 
offers a great way to cruise 
the Web or do basic word 
processing. Often, all a 
middle-aged PC needs is a good 
cleaning and perhaps a few simple 
hardware upgrades. Even if you're 
buying a new PC, your old one can still be 
useful as a second PC for someone else in the 
family. An older PC is great as a starter system 
for kids, and it's a lot safer 
(in every sense of the word) 
than letting them play with 
your cutting-edge system. 

If you don't have an older 
PC ready for rehab, you may 
be able to pick up a PC for 
$20 or so at a local garage or 
yard sale. You might even 
find it useful to buy two or 
three old clunker PCs so 
you'll have some spare parts 
in case something is broken. 
Try to get the original instal- 
lation CDs and licenses for 
Windows and the other soft- 
ware that came with the 
system. Microsoft was planning to drop support for 
Windows 98/Me this year, but now they've been 
given a reprieve through 2006. That means you'll be 
able to get patches and updates for important security 
issues, which is essential if you plan to hook a PC to 
the Internet nowadays. 

To keep hassles to a minimum, avoid a truly pre- 
historic computer such as a 486 or a Pentium. My 




starting point for rehabbing would be Pentium II, 
preferably one that is running at 400MHz. It's old 
enough to be very affordable, but not so old that 
hardware upgrades or replacements are hard to find. 
You can even run Windows XP on that kind of 
system, and it works very well as long as you have 
256MB or more memory installed. 

A Clean Start 

The first thing to do when rehabbing a PC is to 
vacuum out the inside of the case to remove as much 
dust as possible. Some people use a compressed air can 
to remove the dust, but I don't like that approach be- 
cause it may push the dust deeper into CD drives, 
heatsinks, and other components. When you're 
dusting, make sure to get as much gunk as possible out 
of heatsinks, where it often seems to collect. A heatsink 
covered in fuzz won't do a 
very good job of cooling. 
Next, see if you can get 
the system to start up. In the 
hardware department, the 
most common reasons for 
failures are the moving parts: 
cooling fans and drives. 
When the power supply fan 
fails, it often takes the power 
supply with it. Power sup- 
plies can be had for less than 
$30, so it's no big financial 
strain if you have to replace 
one. The best way to ap- 
proach hardware problems 
is to have two systems and 
swap parts until you get it working. If you can get 
through the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) startup 
check and the system at least starts to boot, then you're 
usually in good shape hardware-wise. 

If the disk drive isn't working, put your ear close 
to the drive. If you don't hear it spinning, the drive 
may be suffering from a problem called stiction that 
often occurs if it's been sitting unused for a while. Try 



tapping the center of the drive gently with 
the handle (not the tip) of a screwdriver; 
this may give the drive the oomph it 
needs to get started again. If not, swap a 
drive from another system or buy one; I 
got a refurbished 80GB Seagate drive re- 
cently for $30 at CompUSA (www.comp 
usa.com). Older systems may not be 
able to recognize drives larger than 
about 30GB without a BIOS upgrade — 
one that you may not be able to get — so 
don't spend extra for a large drive you 
can't use. The Seagate drive I used had 
a special jumper to restrict it to 30GB so 
that older systems could recognize it. 

Fix The Software 

With the hardware up to speed, the 
next step is to fix the software. It's a rare 
system nowadays that doesn't have some 
sort of serious software configuration 
problem, whether it's an accumulation 
of junk files, viruses and spyware infesta- 
tion, or the need for a good defragging. 
I've covered these maladies in previous 
columns; they can take some time to 
do but usually don't require any really 
special skills. 

Wherever possible, reformat the drive 
and do a clean install of software. That 
guarantees you're starting with a setup 
that's free of spyware and viruses. If you 




This old Pentium II system was rescued 
from the junk heap and then enhanced 
with some artistic case cutouts, interior 
lighting, and a new paint job. 



Utilities Of The Month 
Eraser & Autoclave 

rhinking of donating or throwing 
away an old PC? If you have per- 
sonal information on it — and most 
people do — you could be setting 
yourself up for identity theft. I like 
two free tools that let you delete 
sensitive information from your PC. 
Eraser (www.heidi.ie/eraser) re- 
moves all sorts of files that may 
contain personal information. It 
does more than just delete the files; 
it overwrites them several times so 
that the data can't be recovered by 
an unerase utility. If you want to be 
absolutely sure that all your per- 
sonal data is toasted, Autoclave v0.3 
(staff.washington.edu/jdlarios 
/autoclave/) will completely erase 
all data from the drive. Both work 
very well, so be extra sure you have 
copies of any data that you want to 
keep or it's gone for good. For infor- 
mation on cleaning up your 
Internet browser history, check 
out the "Browser Managers" article 
on page 60. I 



have the original software CDs, you can 
install whatever came with the system. 
Often that is the best choice for brand- 
name systems because you may need spe- 
cial hardware drivers. You can upgrade 
the OS to Windows XP Home Edition if 
you currently have Win98/98SE/Me, but 
that will set you back another $100 or so. 
After your initial software setup, im- 
mediately go to the Windows Update 
Web site and make sure you have in- 
stalled every critical update. (For this 
month's updates, check out "Windows 
Update Tracker" on page 14.) Failing to 
do this will leave you open to all sorts of 
attacks. Also, uninstall any of the ancient 
promotional versions of software that 
came on the CD. The version of McAfee 



or Norton antivirus software that is on a 
1999 PC isn't going to do any good in 
2004. Instead, you should install up-to- 
date versions of a good spyware and 
virus solution. If you like free, trust- 
worthy software (and who doesn't?), I 
recommend AVG Antivirus Free Edition 
(www.grisoft.com), SpywareBlaster 
(www.javacoolsoftware.com), and Ad- 
aware (www.lavasoftusa.com). This trio 
will do a good job of keeping you safe 
from the bad software that's out there. 

Finger & Eye Enhancements 

Want to make an old computer feel like 
new? Buy a new mouse and keyboard. 
The old ones are probably a mess, espe- 
cially if food has gotten anywhere near 
them. There are some very nice mouse- 
and-keyboard packages available for less 
than $50 today, and basic models cost as 
little as $10. For hooking up to an older 
PC, make sure they support the older 
PS/2 (Personal System /2)-style connec- 
tions. Even when an older PC has USB 
(Universal Serial Bus) ports, it may not 
be able to reliably use a USB keyboard. 

Another great upgrade for an old com- 
puter is the display. An old blurry CRT 
(cathode-ray tube) monitor can be real 
torture to your eyes. A 17-inch CRT can 
be had for less than $100 nowadays. If 
you want to really splurge, get a crisp 15- 
inch LCD display; they cost about $300. 
When shopping, just make sure your old 
video card supports the screen resolution. 
The great thing about upgrading this way 
is that if you decide to upgrade your PC 
later, you can use the new components 
on the new PC. 

Even if there are several parts you 
end up replacing, you'll probably spend 
less than $150 to rehab an old computer. 
In the process, you'll learn a lot about 
how computers work and be much more 
confident that you can fix problems 
when they happen in the future. That 
will save you money on service down 
the road. I 



PC Today / August 2004 23 



This Old Desktop 




Commentary by Alfred Poor 



What's Your Type? 



■ n the dark, old DOS days, 



have ques 
windows 3.x/95/?o, o 
have a favorite tip, utili, 
resource that you'd like 
share, send a message i 
Alfred afalfred@pctoday.coi 
Due to the volume of mail tl 



to answer all messages, but 
does his best. 



you were pretty limited in 
how your printed documents 
came out. Printers had only a 
few BMP (bit-mapped) fonts, 
and they were not much to 
write home about (or with, 
for that matter). There were 
some programs that let you 
print text and graphics in the 
same document, but you 
were essentially creating a 
picture, and these took for- 
ever to print. This was also a 
great way to go through expen- 
sive printer ribbons in a hurry. 
The Apple LaserWriter was a break- 
through product, in that it let users down- 
load outline fonts that could be scaled to any 
size when printing. The printer used a language 
called PostScript and required a faster processor and 
more memory than the Macs (and rare PCs) that con- 
nected to it. HP then advanced the personal printer rev- 
olution with an affordable LaserJet printer that could 
accept downloaded BMP fonts and had slots for car- 
tridges that had fonts in ROM for instant access. 

Tried & True 

The real progress didn't start until Windows 3.1 ar- 
rived on the scene, however, with support for a new 
type of outline font called TrueType. TrueType fonts let 
the computer create any sized letters as needed and 
send them to the printer. Windows can either send the 
characters as BMPs — essentially little pictures of each 
letter — or, if the printer's controller accepts down- 
loaded fonts, Windows will download the fonts in the 
required size so you don't need to send the information 
repeatedly in order to print the same character. 

Starting with Win3.1, Microsoft included 14 different 
fonts, as shown in the Font column of Table 1. There 
were normal, italic, bold, and bold italic files for the 
Arial, Courier, and Times New Roman type fonts, as 
well as individual files for the Symbol and Wingding 
fonts. Win3.1 has both FOT (Font) and TTF (TrueType 
Font) files; Win95 and later only have TTF. 




Note that the FOT files were only required in and in- 
cluded with Win3.1; Windows 95 and later only require 
the single TTF file for each font. 



Font 


File names 


Arial 


Arial.fot, Arial.ttf 


Arial Bold 


Arialbd.fot, Arialbd.ttf 


Arial Bold Italic 


Arialbi.fot, Arialbi.ttf 


Arial Italic 


Ariali.fot, Ariali.ttf 


Courier 


Cour.fot, Cour.ttf 


Courier Bold 


Courbd.fot, Courbd.ttf 


Courier Bold Italic 


Courbi.fot, Courbi.ttf 


Courier Italic 


Couri.fot, Couri.ttf 


Times New Roman 


Times. fot, Times.ttf 


Times New Roman Bold 


Timesbd.fot, Timesbd.ttf 


Times New Roman 


Timesbi.fot, Timesbi.ttf 


Bold Italic 




Times New Roman Italic 


Timessi.fot, Timesi.ttf 


Symbol 


Symbol.fot, Symbol.ttf 


Wingding 


Wingding.fot, 




Wingding.ttf 



Table 1: These are the TrueType font files included with 
Win3.1/95 — pretty basic compared to today's standards. 



Keep Track Of Your Fonts 

If there isn't a separate file for the typeface with bold 
or italic attributes, Windows can create text with these 




FnnlilK TrueType Funis; 
I I Ishow Only TrueType Fonls in Applications 



Make sure that you have TrueType fonts enabled in 
Windows 3.1 if you want to use them. 



attributes on the fly. The results are not as 
precise as if they were carefully crafted 
but are good enough for most purposes. 
As a result, you don't really need to know 
whether there is more than one file for a 
given typeface. 

Win3.1 requires two files for every font: 
one with an .FOT extension and one with 
a .TTF extension. The TTF file contains the 
data for the font, and the FOT file points 
to that file's location. All you need is the 
TTF file to install a new font; Windows 
creates the FOT file as part of the installa- 
tion process. All font files are stored in the 
C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM folder. 

If you're going to use TrueType fonts 
in Win3.1, make sure that they are en- 
abled by starting the Control Panel and 
running the Fonts applet. Click the True- 
Type button and make sure there is a 
check mark by Enable TrueType. To add a 
new font, choose the Add button on the 
Fonts application window. Then browse 
to the file for the font and choose OK. 

Win95 makes the situation easier: It has 
a new C:\WINDOWS\FONTS subdirec- 
tory for this purpose. To install a new 
font, all you have to do is copy the TTF 
file to the Fonts subdirectory. 

Too Much Of A Good Thing 

It is convenient to have a number of 
different typefaces to choose from when 
designing a document, but there is a price 
to pay. 

In Win3.x, each installed font takes up 
system resources, and running low on 
system resources can lead to error mes- 
sages and system crashes. Having too 
many fonts also can make the boot 
process take significantly longer. Win95 is 



a bit more tolerant of installed 
fonts, but there are still limits. 
All fonts get installed under a 
single Registry key, which has 
a limit of 64KB. Depending on 
the length of the font name and 
its location, you are probably 

limited to about 1,000 fonts. 

The best approach, how- 
ever, is to just limit yourself to a couple 
dozen fonts that you use on a regular 
basis. For the rest of your fonts, get a font 
manager utility so that you can archive 
font files easily and restore them to your 
system either singly or in groups. This 
will help improve your system stability 
and performance. 

Notepad Limits 

Notepad is one of the most useful utili- 
ties ever bundled with any version of 
Windows. It is only a simple text editor, 
but that's what makes it so useful. Unlike 
word processors, there's no way you can 
junk up a file with different fonts or ef- 
fects, such as bold or underline. So if you 
want to write or change a file and just use 
unformatted characters, Notepad is 
the tool for you. 

The program has its limits, 
however. All the data is held in 
memory and does not get 
spooled to disk, so you cannot 
open very large files. I experi- 
mented on my two test bench 
systems and discovered the fol- 
lowing: I managed to create a file 
containing 38.85KB using Win95 
before I got the error message 
that the file was too large. I was 
surprised to find that Win3.11's 
appetite was larger; it opened 
the same file without complaint, and I 
added to it until it reached 48.68KB be- 
fore the error message. 

I expect that your "mileage" may vary 
as the available resources play a role in 
how much text Notepad can hold at once. 
Should you ever have to view or edit a file 
that is too large for your installation of 



Notepad, use WordPad instead. It doesn't 
have the same size limitations, and you 
can save the contents as a plain text file 
when you're finished making changes. 

A Fresh Look At File Manager 

Ever notice that if you have a Windows 
Explorer window for a folder, and you 
add a file to that folder, the file appears at 
the bottom of the list no matter how the 
list is sorted? You have to press the F5 key 
in order to refresh the display. Well, the 
Win3.x File Manager does that one better 
(or worse, depending on your point of 
view) because in some cases, the new file 
won't appear at all until you refresh 
the window. 

The new file will appear on the File 
Manager list if the change is made in 
one of two ways: by a Windows pro- 
gram that makes the appropriate calls 
or a DOS program running under 
Windows in enhanced mode with 
System.ini containing the line File 
SysChange=YES. DOS programs run- 
ning in real or standard mode will not 
update the File Manager screen, and 



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Windows 95 shows the contents of the Fonts folder 
differently than it does for other folders. 



you'll have to press the F5 key to make 
it appear. 

Note also that changes, such as move, 
copy, or delete, in the File Manager Search 
window under Win3.0/3.0a may not ap- 
pear in the File Manager screen. This was 
fixed starting with Win3.1. I 




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Windows Explorer 



Picture this: You need to access a 
Microsoft Word document you 
started working on the other day. Which 
are you most likely to do: 1) Click the 
Start button on your computer's Desktop, 
select Documents (or, if you're using 
Windows XP, select My Recent Docu- 
ments), and hope the document you need 
is still in the list of recently accessed files. 
2) Use Windows Explorer to locate and 
organize your documents. 

If you (or someone you know) is more 
likely to choose the first option, this ar- 
ticle will help take the mystery out of 
finding and managing files and other 
documents on your PC. By learning the 
ins and outs of Windows Explorer (the 
file management utility in every Win- 
dows version since Windows 95), you'll 
be able to find the files you need 
quickly, organize them in ways that 
make sense to you, and make better 
sense out of how your computer works 
with programs and files. 

Files, Files Everywhere 

Before we start tackling questions 
about how Windows Explorer helps you 
manage files, let's take a very quick look 
at what files actually are. Like books, files 
are basically collections of data that come 
in various sizes. Word documents, Excel 



spreadsheets, and email messages are all 
files. Your Windows operating system 
is actually a collection of system files 
(important files that are often inacces- 
sible, even through Windows Explorer, 
and essential to your computer's smooth 
operation). And programs themselves 
are files. 

As a library houses books, your com- 
puter's hard drive (main storage device 
inside your PC, almost always called 
the C: drive) contains files. Of course, in a 
library you don't usually find books 
lying around on the floor, but rather 
categorized on shelves. Similarly, in a 
hard drive, files are systematically 
stored within folders. 
Now that you have en- 
dured Files 101, it's time 
for the questions. Keep in 
mind that the answers 
below work or Windows 
9x/Me/2000/XP unless 
otherwise indicated. 



How do I open 
Windows Explorer? 

There are two basic 
ways to launch Windows 
Explorer, so choose the 
method that works best 
for you: 



j« 



t 



• Win9x/Me: Click Start, Programs, 
and Windows Explorer. 

• Win2000: Click Start, Programs, 
Accessories, and Windows Explorer. 

• WinXP: Click Start, All Programs, 
Accessories, and Windows Explorer. 

• All versions: Right-click the Start 
button and select Explore. 

There are some other starting points 
for accessing Windows Explorer, as well, 
which you might already use. If you 
double-click the My Computer icon on 
your Desktop, a window opens with 
icons for all of the drives (hard drives, as 
well as floppy, CD, DVD, network, and 



Tools Help 

Search Folders \T\ - 



| jj My Computei 



Total Size Free Space Comments 



■ Desktop 

i lj My Documents 

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If you know how to find your way around the My Computer 
window, you already know a lot about Windows Explorer. 



26 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 




other drives depending on how your 
computer is set up) and for the Control 
Panel. There are also links to folders such 
as My Documents. If you know how to 
move around within these folders, you 
already know how to navigate through 
Windows Explorer. 

In WinXP, clicking Start and selecting 
My Documents, My Pictures, or My Music 
takes you directly to the associated folders 
within Windows Explorer. All of these 
access methods are just that: different 
ways of entering Windows Explorer. 



..General; View File Types Offline Files 



Tasks 

, — | Show common tasks in folders 
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Browse folders 

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Select Folder Options from the Tools 
menu to customize Windows Explorer's 
appearance and change how it behaves. 



| General [ View 

Folder views 

You can apply the view [such as Details or Tiles] that 

ibkIb you are u in ■ :■■ ' to all folders. 



Apply to All Fe.'CH-": 



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Advanced settings: 



Files and Foldets 

Automatically search for network folders and printers 

Display file size information in folder tips 

Display a":. :■'.■■- icide: ,-:ev- ;■;(.■: :er's Folders list 
! ; ■■;■:: cy ■'■■ ■:■:■'■■■ ■'-. ■ ■ ■ ■■. : :::■' 
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Display the full narh in the title bar 
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Do not show hidden files and folders 
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| Cancel | | Apply | 



Sensitive system files are hidden from 
view in Windows Explorer. In Windows 
XP, you can change folder options to 
view those files. 




How do I move around 
within Windows Explorer? 

Navigating Windows Explorer 
requires a lot of mouse clicking. 
When you launch Windows Ex- 
plorer, you'll see menus at the 
top, a Folders pane on the left, 
and a larger pane on the right. In 
the Folders pane, there are 
folders organized in a tree struc- 
ture or tree directory (folders 
and subfolders arranged hier- 
archically). The contents of 
whatever folder you currently 
have selected will appear in the 
right pane. 

In the Folder pane, a plus sign 
(+) to the left of a folder indicates that it 
includes subfolders; you can click the 
plus sign to see what's inside. You can 
then click the minus sign (-) to close the 
folder and stop viewing its contents. You 
can also double-click any folder within 
Windows Explorer (whether it be in the 
left pane or the right) to open and close it. 

If you get lost navigating Windows 
Explorer, a couple of buttons on the 
Standard Buttons bar can help you out. 
Click the Back button to return to the last 
folder you viewed; keep clicking it to 
go back even further. Or, to move up a 
level within the tree structure, click the 
Up button. 

How do I open files and pro- 
grams using Windows Explorer? 

To open a file, such as a Word docu- 
ment or digital photo, locate the file and 
either double-click it or select it and 
click Open in the File menu. You can do 
the same thing with an application file 
(executable file that launches a program; 
Winword.exe, for example, launches 
Word), but it's usually easier to launch a 
program by clicking Start, Programs (All 
Programs in WinXP), and the icon for 
the appropriate program. 

How do I create new folders to 
help organize my files? 

First navigate to find the location 
where you want to create the new 
folder. You can then either click the File 
menu and select New and Folder or 




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In Windows Me/2000/XP, you can select different 
viewing options using the View button. The 
Thumbnails view shown here lets you see images. 



right-click an empty area in the right 
pane and select New and Folder. This 
creates a folder aptly named New 
Folder. Type the name you want the 
folder to have and press ENTER. If you 
want to rename the new folder, either 
select Rename from the File menu or 
right-click the folder and select Rename, 
type the new name, and press ENTER. 

How do I move and copy 
folders and files from one 
location to another? 

When you move (or cut and paste) a 
file or folder, you're actually removing it 
from its current location and putting it 
somewhere else. When you copy (or copy 
and paste) a file or folder, you're putting a 
copy of it somewhere else; the original file 
remains in its current location. There are 
numerous ways to move an item (more 
than those we mention below), so choose 
the method you're comfortable with: 

• Select the item. Select Cut from the Edit 
menu. Navigate to find the location 
where you want to move the item and 
make sure that location (either a drive 
or folder) is selected in the Folders 
pane. Select Paste from the Edit menu. 

• Right-click the item and select Cut. 
Navigate to find the location where 
you want to move the item. Right- 
click an empty area in the right pane 
and select Paste. 

• With the tree directory open in the 
Folders pane so you can view the cur- 
rent folder and the folder to which you 



PC Today / August 2004 27 







indows Boot Cami 



L 



want to move an item, press 
and hold the SHIFT key while 
you drag and drop the item 
(click it and hold the mouse 
button down to move it from 
one location to another) to 
its destination. 

Similarly, there are numerous 
ways to copy an item. 

• Select the item. Select Copy 
from the Edit menu. Navigate 
to find the location where 
you want to copy the item 
and make sure that location 
(either a drive or folder) is 
selected in the Folders pane. 
Next, select Paste from the 
Edit menu. 

• Right-click the item and 
select Copy. Navigate to find 
the location where you want 
to move the item. Right-click 
an empty area in the right 
pane and select Paste. 

• With the Folders pane open 
so you can view the current 
folder and the folder to which 
you want to copy the item, 
press and hold the CTRL key 
while you drag and drop the 
item to its destination. 



Favorites Tools 



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ffl O My Documents 

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ffl jj3Ki Floppy (A:) 
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How do I use 
Windows Explorer to 
find specific files? 

Windows Explorer's search 
feature lets you locate specific 
files and folders on the hard drive. The 
steps for using the feature, however, 
differ from one Windows version to the 
next. If you know the name of the file 
you're looking for, use the following 
steps in Win9x: 

1. Open the Tools menu and select Find 
and Folders Or Files. This opens the 
Find: All Files dialog box. 

2. On the Name & Location tab, type the 
name of the file you're looking for in 
the Name field. If you only know part 
of the name, that will work, as long as 
you spell it correctly. You don't have to 
include the file extension (characters 
[usually three] that following the period 



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The File Types tab in Windows Explorer's Folder Options lets you 
designate what programs automatically open certain file types. 



2. In the Search For Files Or 
Folders Named field, type 
the name of the file you're 
looking for. It doesn't have to 
be the complete file name, 
but the portion you type 
must be spelled correctly. 

3. If you know the general loca- 
tion of the file, use the Look 
In drop-down menu and 
select the appropriate folder 
or drive. 

4. Click Search Now and, when 
the results display in the 
right pane, double-click the 
file to access it. 

WinXP users should follow 
these steps: 

1. Click the Search button. This 
replaces the Folder pane 
on the left with the Search 
Companion pane. 

2. Click the All Files And 
Folders link. 

3. In the All Or Part Of The File 
Name field, type the name 
of the file you're looking 
for. What you enter must be 
spelled correctly. 

4. If you know the general loca- 
tion of the file, use the Look 
In drop-down menu to desig- 
nate the appropriate folder 
or drive. 

5. Click Search and, when the 
results display, double-click 
the file to open it. 



at the end of a file name and indicate 
what type of program created the file). 

3. If you know the general location of 
the file (for instance, you know it's 
stored in a subfolder within the My 
Documents folder), click the Browse 
button and select the appropriate 
folder or drive. 

4. Click Find Now and, when the results 
display, double-click the file to access it. 

If you're using Win2000/Me, follow 
these steps: 
1. Click the Search button. This replaces 

the Folders pane on the left with the 

Search pane. 



How do I find a file if I don't 
remember what its name is? 

If you know what type of file you're 
looking for (say, an Excel spreadsheet) 
and you know the file extension (in the 
case of the Excel spreadsheet, it's .XLS), 
you can search for that file type and then 
select the correct file. Follow the steps in 
the previous answer with one exception: 
Instead of typing the file name, type an 
asterisk (*) and period followed by the 
file extension (following our spreadsheet 
example, you would type *.xls). pct 

by Cal Clinchard 



28 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 




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Start-To-Finish Guide: 



Format An 
Excel Document 




You're well on your way to becoming 
a Microsoft Excel expert. You can 
enter data effortlessly, cruise around any 
worksheet with ease, and create formulas 
that recalculate information in a flash. 

Although you can efficiently develop 
fact-filled, practical, no-nonsense work- 
sheets, they lack, well, pizzazz. They 
convey the information you need, but 
they definitely don't dazzle your audi- 
ence. Besides, you realize that well-for- 
matted worksheets are not only more 
interesting, but they also can communi- 
cate information more effectively, draw- 
ing attention to key points while down- 
playing the less important stuff. 

In this article we'll guide you through 
various techniques, from basic to elabo- 
rate, that you can use to format your Excel 



worksheets. When you're finished, you'll 
know which formatting tool to pull from 
Excel's toolbox for any occasion. 

You'll gain the most from this tutorial 
by actually trying your hand at each 
method, so go ahead and settle in at your 
computer for a bit of Excel experimenting. 

Up & Running 

Excel provides various ways to for- 
mat: with the Format menu, keyboard 
shortcuts, or toolbar buttons. This mul- 
tiple-method approach lets you choose 
which way matches your work style best. 

However, before you can pick a way 
to format your worksheet, you must first 
select the cells, a step commonly known 
as the "select before you affect" prin- 
ciple. For example, if you want to make 



the text in cell Al bold, you must select 
the cell before clicking the Bold button. 

Of course, applying formatting cell-by- 
cell can quickly become laborious, espe- 
cially if you intend to use the same 
formatting for a range of cells. A more ef- 
ficient method is to select the entire range 
first, and then format it. There are various 
ways to select a range: To select a con- 
tiguous group of cells, you can click a cell 
in the corner of the range, press and hold 
the SHIFT key, and click in the opposite 
corner before releasing the SHIFT key. 
Alternatively, you can click a cell, hold it, 
and drag the cursor over the range. 

To select a noncontiguous range, press 
and hold the CTRL key and click the cells 
that you want to select. You can also select 
an entire row or column; to do so, click 
the gray row or column heading (such as 
"10" or "A"). If you want to select mul- 
tiple columns or rows, click and drag your 
cursor over the appropriate headings. 
Finally, you can select an entire worksheet 
by clicking the gray Select All button, 
which is the blank gray box located in the 
upper-left corner of the worksheet. 

Now that you know some methods 
for selecting cells and ranges, you're 
ready to apply formatting to them. 

Format Text & Characters 

One of the best places to locate com- 
monly used formatting commands is the 
Formatting toolbar. Besides the fact that 



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Excel includes basic formatting f 
numbers via buttons on the Formatting 
toolbar. If you want fancier numerical 
formatting, take a look at the options in 
the Format Cells dialog box. 



30 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 




it's handy, the Formatting toolbar 
buttons are easy-to-use: To identify a 
toolbar button's name, rest your mouse 
pointer over the button until a ScreenTip 
with the name appears. After you locate 
the button you want, click it to apply 
formatting to selected cells. 

Let's take a quick tour of the most- 
used buttons on the Formatting toolbar, 
using Excel 2002 as an example. First, 
you can modify the typeface used for se- 
lected cells by clicking the Font button's 




drop-down arrow, just as you would in 
Microsoft Word. You can also change 
the font size and bold, italicize, or un- 
derline your text. (If you prefer to use 
the keyboard for these common for- 
mats, press CTRL-B for bold, CTRL-U 
for underline, and CTRL-I for italic.) To 
change the text's color, click the Font 
Color button's drop-down arrow and 
click the color you want. 

Finally, if you don't like the way 
Excel aligns cell data (right-aligned for 
numbers; left-aligned for text) you can 
quickly change it by clicking the Align 
Left, Center, or Align Right buttons. 

Numerical Formatting 

You can also format numeric data 
using specific numerical formats. Ap- 
plying number formatting doesn't change 
the underlying value; it simply makes the 
worksheet more readable. For example, 
you can click the Currency Style button to 
format a number using a dollar sign ($) 
and two decimal places (plus a comma, if 
necessary); choosing the Comma Style 
button does the same, without the dollar 
sign. Excel includes these common for- 
mats as Formatting toolbar buttons, so 
they are easy to find. 



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Advanced Excel 

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6,000 


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22,500 


7,000 


6,500 


7,000 


10,000 


30,500 


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24,000 


20,500 


27,000 


33,500 


105,000 


1 1 ,000 


12,000 


10.500 


13,500 


47.000 



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9,700 
23, 000 



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37,800 



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Advanced PowerPoint 
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Beginning Excel 
Intermediate Excel 
<\ Advanced Excel 
Total of All Excel Books 
Total Virginia 



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4,500 

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27.500 

1,200 

9,000 

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226,900 



For some features, such as Borders and Fill Color, you can "tear off" the associated palette 
to make accessing the buttons easier. 



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If these basic number formats don't fit 
the bill, you'll need to dig a little deeper. 
To do so, you can open the Format Cells 
dialog box by choosing Cells from the 
Format menu or by simply pressing 
CTRL-1. In the Format Cells dialog box, 
click the Number tab. The Category list 
includes various types of formatting you 
can apply to numbers. Click an option on 
the list (such as Number, Currency, or 
Accounting) and choose associated op- 
tions listed in the dialog box. If you're not 
sure how the options you choose will ap- 
pear, take a look at the Sample box. When 
you're finished, click OK. 

Make It Fit 

As you work with your Excel data, 
you'll probably soon discover that the 
preset sizes for columns and rows aren't 
exactly one size fits all. Instead, typing 
lengthy text in a cell is sometimes unset- 
tling because entries that extend beyond 
the default column width flow into the 
adjacent cell or may instead appear 
chopped off. Here's what's happening: 
A column displays about nine charac- 
ters, but it can actually contain as many 
as 256. If you type a text label longer 
than the default width, Excels truncates 
the display of the extra letters if they 
can't flow into the adjacent cell (al- 
though they're still part of the cell's con- 
tents); entries that are too long display 
as pound signs (###). Keep in mind that 
the underlying value is still held in the 
cell; you just can't view it. 

Fortunately, you can resize a column 
so that the cell's contents are fully 
displayed. To do this, rest the mouse 
pointer over the right border of the 
column heading until it appears as a 
double-headed, horizontal arrow bi- 
sected by a vertical line. (This can be a bit 
tricky, so move the mouse slowly over 
the border and don't give up.) Drag the 
border left or right, releasing the mouse 
when the column is the correct width. 

You can also quickly resize a column 
to fit the widest entry in the entire 
column. To do this, double-click the 
right border of the heading. If you find 
yourself moving the mouse between 
clicks, you may prefer to instead click a 




PC Today / August 2004 31 







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column heading (which selects the 
entire column) and then choose Format, 
Column, and AutoFit Selection. 

For even greater efficiency, you can re- 
size several adjacent columns at once. To 
do this, click the first column heading in 
your selection, press and hold the SHIFT 
key, and then click the last column 
heading. With the columns selected, 
choose Format, Column, and Width. In 
the Column Width dialog box, type a new 
width and then choose OK. Alternatively, 
you can select all the columns you want to 
resize and double-click the right border 
of any selected column heading. You can 
change the height of a row to accom- 
modate the tallest character in much 
the same way: double-click the bottom 
border of the row heading. 

Finally, instead of resizing columns, 
you can arrange text in a cell so that it 
wraps to multiple lines within the cell. 
To do this, choose Format, Cells, and 
click the Alignment tab. Check the Wrap 
Text box and click OK. Alternatively, 
you can check the Shrink To Fit box in 
the Format Cells dialog box. This tem- 
porarily reduces the size of the typeface 
so that it fits in the cell. However, the 
text size itself isn't actually changed; if 
you later increase the column width 
the text will automatically resize to fit 
within the larger column. 

Add Borders & Shading 

Another way to emphasize worksheet 
information (such as a heading) is to sur- 
round it with a border. To do this, select 
the cells and click the arrow next to the 
Borders button. Click the type of border 
you want on the Borders palette. 

You can also use options on the 
Borders palette to add a single or double 
border underline below a column of 
numbers: just select the cell and then 
click the appropriate button on the 
Borders palette 

If you plan to apply the same border 
several times in sequence, you can "tear 
off" the Borders palette from the 
Formatting toolbar. This keeps it handy 
on-screen so that you don't have to keep 
clicking the Borders arrow. To do this, 
open the Borders palette. Move your 



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10,000 


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11,000 


12,000 


10,500 


13,500 


47,000 


10 Intermediate Excel 


8,000 


9,500 


7,800 


8,000 


33,300 


11 Advanced Excel 


8,600 


9,800 


9,700 


9,800 


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$ 51,500 


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You can rotate the text for headings or other text that you want to emphasize. Rotating 
labels also helps them fit in a smaller space. 



pointer to the top of the displayed 
palette and drag it into the worksheet 
area before releasing the mouse. 
When you finish using the palette, 
clear it by clicking its close button 
(the X in the upper-right corner). 

To apply shading, select the range 
and then click the Fill Color button's 
drop-down arrow. Choose a color 
from the Fill Color palette. If you 
want more specific choices for 
shading (or borders) you can press 
CRTL-1 to open the Format Cells 
dialog box. Choose options on the 
Border or Patterns pages of the 
dialog box. 

Rotate Text 

Another option for displaying text 
more attractively (and squishing it into 
a smaller area) is to rotate text to a spe- 
cific angle. For example, you can dis- 
play headings at a 45-degree angle. 

To rotate text, select the cells; then 
open the Format Cells dialog box. Click 
the Alignment tab. Type the number of 
degrees that you want to rotate text in 
the Degrees box. Alternatively, drag the 
Red block in the Orientation box to vi- 
sually indicate the rotation you want. 
When you're finished, click OK. 



Tired of formatting everything individually? 
Use Excel's AutoFormat feature to apply 
predesigned formatting to a range. 



AutoFormat 

Rather than individually applying 
fonts, borders, shading, and other for- 
matting to a range, you can use Excel's 
AutoFormat feature. AutoFormat in- 
cludes a professionally designed set of 
formatting instructions. First, select the 
range and then choose Format and 
AutoFormat. Click a format from the list 
in the AutoFormat box to preview it in 
the Sample area. When you find the type 
of formatting that you want, click OK. 

If you want to remove an AutoFormat 
from a range, select the cells and choose 
Format and AutoFormat. Click None at 



32 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 




Windows Boot Camp "« ~*JZ2 



the bottom of the list. 
Alternatively, you can 
clear an AutoFormat (or 
any formatting, for that 
matter) while still leaving 
the cell contents in place 
by choosing Edit, Clear, 
and Formats. 



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Copy Formats 

You can use Excel's 
Format Painter feature to 
efficiently copy formatting 
from one cell or range to 
another. This is helpful be- 
cause you can develop the 
look you want by combining various 
formats and copy it to other worksheet 
areas. First, select a cell with the for- 
matting that you want to copy. Click 
the Format Painter button on the 
Formatting toolbar and drag over the 
range you want to format before re- 
leasing the mouse. When you release 
the mouse, the Format Painter is turned 
off. However, you can keep the Format 
Painter active so that you can apply the 
formatting to several ranges. To do this, 
select the sample cell and then double- 
click the Format Painter button. When 
you're finished painting the format, click 
the button again, which turns it off. 

As an alternative to using the Format 
Painter, you can use the Paste Special 
command to copy formats from one 
range to another. This is especially help- 
ful if you want to apply formats from one 
worksheet to another. First, select the cell 
with the formatting you want to copy 
and then click the Copy button (or choose 
Edit and Copy). Select the range to which 
you want to apply the formatting and 
choose Edit and Paste Special. In the 
Paste Special dialog box, choose the 
Formats radio button. Finally, click OK. 

Conditional Formatting 

You can format cells based on their 
content, a spiffy feature that Excel refers 
to as Conditional Formatting. This helps 
you visually identify data that ad- 
heres to specific criteria. For example, 
Conditional Formatting can help you 
mark all items over budget in red or 
those that exceed sales projections in 



You can copy formatting 
from one range to an- 
other by using the Format 
Painter button or the 
Paste Special command. 



bold. If the underlying 
value later changes, Excel 
will automatically re- 
format the cells to display 
the appropriate format- 
ting. You can apply Con- 
ditional Formatting to a 
constant or to the results 
of a formula; however, 
we'll use the easiest sce- 
nario for this tutorial, 
which is using constants. 

Let's assume that you 
want to flag all cells in 
red that have values 










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Conditional Formatting helps you visually identify 
cells with specified values by formatting them 
differently, such as showing budgetary items that 
exceed $2,000 in red. 



exceeding $2,000. First, select the range 
to which you want to apply the for- 
matting and then choose Conditional 
Formatting from the Format menu. In 
the Conditional Formatting dialog box, 
make sure Condition 1 shows as Cell 
Value Is, indicating a constant value. 
Next, choose the comparison operator 
(in this case you'll choose Greater Than). 
In the third text box, type a value for 
the condition (such as 2000). Click the 
Format button and set the type of for- 
matting in the Format Cells dialog box 
that you want Excel to apply if the con- 
dition is true. For example, to show cells 
with values greater than 2000, you can 
click the Color drop-down arrow and 
then choose the color red. Click OK. If 
you want Excel to examine multiple sets 
of criteria, you add more conditions by 
clicking the Add button. When you're 
finished setting criteria, choose OK in all 
open dialog boxes. 

Add Flair & Style 

As you work more and more with 
Excel, you'll probably find that you like a 
certain combination of formatting, such as 
a font style and color that displays your 




company's or favorite sports team's colors. 
Luckily, you can save your custom-de- 
signed formatting as a style and then use it 
whenever you want in a workbook. 

To develop a custom style, first 
format a range using all the attributes 
you want to include in the style. For ex- 
ample, you can format a range using a 
12-point Arial font, a border, and gray 
shading. Select the range and then 
choose Format and Style to open the 
Style dialog box. The Style Name drop- 
down menu includes a preset name for 
the style, but you of course can change 
it. Click OK. 

After you create a style, you can 
apply it to other worksheet ranges. 
Select the range to which you want 
to apply the style, and then choose 
Format and Style. Choose the style 
you want from the Style Name list. 

Finally, you can modify the style. 

In the Style dialog box, choose the 

style on the Style Name list. Click 

Modify and set options in the Format 

Cells dialog box. When you're finished, 

choose OK in all open dialog boxes. 

And Finally, Add Interest 

After all the technicalities of format- 
ting your Excel sheet, you deserve to 
add some fun and interest to it. If you 
want to quickly add an eye-catching vi- 
sual to a worksheet, you can add a photo 
or other graphic to the background. 
Keep in mind that this can increase the 
worksheet's file size (and is potentially 
distracting), but when tastefully done, it 
can add interest and zing. 

To add a background graphic to a 
worksheet, choose Format, Sheet, and 
Background. In the Sheet Background 
dialog box, navigate to the folder where 
your photos and other graphics are 
stored and double-click the file you 
want to use for the background. 

With these formatting tools firmly in 
hand, you should be able to make sure 
that any worksheet is interesting, read- 
able, and well-dressed. These tips will 
both increase your productivity and set 
your Excel sheet apart from the crowd, per 

by Linda Bird 



PCToday / August 2004 33 






'indows Boot Cami 




Excel 
Formulas 



Excel is jam-packed full of functions — 
more than 360 of them. To help you 
get up and running with them, we've de- 
veloped the crib notes for using Excel. 
Here we've included some of the most 
useful functions Excel offers to users. 

Before diving into them, however, we 
want to mention that almost all Excel 
functions are set up in a similar way: the 
equal sign (=), so Excel knows that the 
entry is a function; the func- 
tion's name; and finally the 
variable portion of the function 
(the argument), which is usu- 
ally placed within parenthesis. 
Arguments are constants, such 
as a number, a range, or even 
another function. Excel is also 
relatively picky about the 
syntax you use to develop the 
function, so make sure you 
type each portion of the for- 
mula correctly. 



f] File Edit | 

a at am 



cell where you want to display the total 
and click the button. Excel places a 
moving border around the cells that it 
assumes you want to add. To use the 
indicated cells in the formula, click the 
Enter button on the Formula Bar 
(shown by a green check mark) or 
press the ENTER key. 

You can also preselect the cells and 
click the AutoSum button. 






highest sales for the month), you would 
type =MAX(A1:A10); to find the smallest 
value (such as the lowest sales), type 
=MIN(A1:A10). 

You can also find the number of cells in 
a range that include values by tapping into 
the COUNT function. COUNT finds the 
number of nonblank cells in a range. For 
example, assuming all the cells in Al 
through A10 contained values, 
typing =COUNT(A1:A10) re- 
sults in the number 10. 



X -J f* =SUM(B1Q:B15) 



Cast-a- Wide-Net Internet Sales 



Bonus Percentage: 



) Employee 

o Ann Stegall 

i Lonnie Jones 

2 Rebecca Jilson 

3 Lauren Smith 

4 Jill Adkins 

5 Jason Black 



7.5% 



Total Sales for Month Bonus Amount 

$9,841.26 I 

$25,083.18 | 

$17,675.99 i 

$12,398.17 | 

11,193.74 

14,471.6$] 

^RflM^rfllB^'"" """ ' i 

SUM(numberl, [number], ...» 



$738.09 

$1,881.24 

$1,325.70 

$929.88 

$839.53 

$1,085.37 



SUM It Up 

You can't work very long in 
Excel without using SUM. This 
function simply totals the values from a 
range or a set of constants. Here's an ex- 
ample: Imagine that you want to add up 
the values in cells Al through A10. To do 
so, you type =SUM(A1:A10) in the cell 
where you want to display the total (such 
as All). If you later change a value in one 
of the referenced cells (such as Al), Excel 
automatically recalculates the total. 

Finally, if you have adjacent cells 
that you want to add, consider using 
Excel's AutoSum button, located on the 
Standard toolbar. To use it, click the 



When you click the AutoSum button, Excel looks in the colum 
above (or the row to the left of) the selected cell to determine 
which values to use. To confirm the selection, press ENTER. 



Find The AVERAGE, 
MAX, MIN, COUNT 

Besides SUM, Excel includes other 
common functions that help you quickly 
determine the average, highest, or lowest 
value for a range of cells: AVERAGE, 
MAX, and MIN. You set up these func- 
tions in much the same way as you do 
SUM. For example, if you want to find the 
average values in cells Al through A10, 
you would type =AVERAGE(A1:A10). 
Likewise, if you want to quickly find the 
highest value in a range (such as the 



Get A Handle 
On TIME & DATE 

Time is tough for most of us 
to manage. However, Excel 
can help you get a good 
handle on time and date calcu- 
lations via the DATE and 
TIME functions. These help 
you calculate and analyze in- 
formation related to the pass- 
ing of time. For example, you 
can use DATE to find how 
many days an account is past 
due, when a new employee is eligible for 
benefits, or how many months you spent 
on a project. 

The syntax for the function is 
=DATE(year,month,day). For example, 
you can type Jan. 1, 2004 as =DATE 
(2004,1,1). The real power behind the 
DATE function is that you can use it to 
perform such calculations as the span be- 
tween two dates. This is because Excel as- 
signs a serial number for each date. For 
example, imagine that you want to find 
out the exact number of days that you've 



34 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 




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been alive. Use the DATE function to 
type the current date in cell CI and 
your birthday in cell C2. In C3, type 
=C1-C2. (Make sure this cell is for- 
matted as Number.) Excel calculates 
the span between the starting and 
ending dates and displays the number 
of days that you've been around. 

The TIME function, while not as 
widely used as DATE, is useful when 
you want to perform calculations be- 
tween specific times. This helps you 
determine how long it takes to pro- 
duce something or to complete a pro- 
ject. The syntax is =TIME(hour,minute 
,second). It works best to use the military 
(24-hour) system, with 1 p.m. entered as 
13, 2 p.m. as 14, and so on. For example, 
you can type =TIME(16,20,0) for 4:20 pm. 
You can then ask Excel to calculate 
elapsed time. 

Money Matters: PMT 

Excel includes a host of financial func- 
tions that help you manage your money. 
One of the most useful is PMT, which you 
can use to quickly analyze monthly pay- 
ments for principle and interest on a loan. 
Is it better to finance that new car for four 
years with a 10% loan or five years at 8%? 
How much will a 15-year mortgage save 
on interest compared with a 30-year mort- 
gage? With the PMT function, you can 
evaluate each scenario side-by-side. 

To use PTM, you need to know the in- 
terest rate, number of payment periods, 
and principle for the function. The func- 
tion is set up as =PMT(interest rate, 
number of periods, principle). You must 
also assume that the interest rate and 
number of payments are constant over the 
life of the loan and make sure to use the 
same units (either month or year) for the 
interest rate and payment period. 

Here's how it works. Imagine that 
you're buying a new home and want to 
find out the monthly payments. You're fi- 
nancing $200,000 for 30 years at a steep 
10% interest rate. The formula, 
=PMT(. 1/12,30*12,200000), yields a 
monthly payment of $1,755.14. However, 
if you were instead able to get an interest 
rate of 6%, you would set up the function 
as =PMT(.06/12,30*12,200000). As a re- 







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B16 t £ =SUM(B10:B15) 


A 


B 


c 




>Jet Internet Sales 


i Cast-a-Wide-I 


5 


6 






7 


Bonus Percentage: 


7.5% 




8 








9 


Employee 


Total Sales for Month 


Bonus Amount 


10 Ann Stegall 


$9,841.26 


$738.09 


11 Lonnie Jones 


$25,083.18 


$1,881.24 


12 Rebecca Jilson 


$17,675.99 


$1,325.70 


U 


Lauren Smith 


$12,398.17 


$929.86 


14 


Jill Adkins 


11,193.74 


$839.53 


15 


Jason Black 


14,471.63 


$-1,085.37 
$6,799.80 
$1,133.30 


n> 


Total (Using SUM) 


$90,663.97 


17 


Average (Using AVERAGE) 


$15,110.66 


18 


Highest (Using MAX) 


$25,083.13 


$1,881.24 


is Lowest (Using MIN) 


$9,841.26 


$738.09 




Excel makes it easy to find the sum, average, 
highest, and lowest values in a range. 



suit, your monthly payment would drop 
to $1,199.10 — a real savings. 



More Money Matters: 
Future Value 



monthly payments into a 10-year col- 
lege account, you would type 12*10. 
Finally, type the payment amount. 
You designate this amount as a nega- 
tive number since it represents cash 
you pay out. 

If you plan to deposit $100 a 
month in a college account that pays 
10% annual interest, type =FV 
(.1/12,12*10,-100), yielding a value in 
10 years of $20,484.50. After you've 
set up the function, you can play 
around with "what if" scenarios: 
What if the interest rate is only 8%? 
What if I deposit $150 a month in- 
stead of $100? 

Untapped Resouces 

Many people think that Excel is 
merely a program to keep track of 



Be 



Excel's FV (Future Value) 
function is a great tool to find 
out how much an investment 
will be worth in the future, given 
certain conditions. If you know 
the interest rate, number of pay- 
ments, and amount of each pay- 
ment, you can project how much 
money you'll have after a given 
amount of time. To use the func- 
tion, you'll have to assume that 
these elements (including in- 
terest rate) remain constant for 
the term. Because of this, the 
function is useful but can't ac- 
count for all the "real world" 
scenarios, such as variable in- 
terest rates and inflation. 

The correct structure for this 
function is =FV(interest rate, 
number of payments, amount of each 
payment), with each argument sepa- 
rated by commas. For example, if you 
assume that your investment will grow 
at an average rate of 10% per year, type 
.1. For monthly payments, you also 
need to divide the interest by 12 (so 
type /12 after, making this argument 
.1/12). Next, type the total number of 
deposits that you plan to make into the 
fund. Additionally, if you divided the 
interest rate by 12, you must also mul- 
tiply the number of payment years by 
12. For example, if you're making 



dH §ay 



Mortgage Amount (Using PMT) 

Financing $200,000 




Excel's PMT function helps you quickly analyze 
monthly payments for different interest rates, 
principle amounts, and terms. 



various everyday details, such as num- 
bers, lists, and monthly payments. 
However, if you delve a little deeper into 
it, you'll discover a powerful calculator 
that you can use to quickly evaluate aver- 
ages, lapsed time, mortgage payments, 
and the future value of your banking 
portfolio. Excel is surprisingly sophisti- 
cated, and, with a little practice, surpris- 
ingly efficient and easy-to-use. Spend 
some time with Excel to discover the func- 
tions that can make your life easier, rcr 




by Linda Bird 



PCToday / August 2004 35 






-Hxperts Only 



Advanced Guide: 

Clipboard & 
ClipBook Viewers 

Keep Track Of What's In The Windows Clipboard 



The Windows Clipboard is a mar- 
velous little system component that 
almost any application ever written for 
Windows can use. If an application's 
Edit menu has Cut, Copy, and Paste op- 
tions, then the Clipboard is in the back- 
ground, just waiting to do its thing. 




Sometimes, the Clipboard does its job a 
little too well. You may paste an item into 
a document, only to find that it's not what 
you expected. This happens not because 
the Clipboard malfunctioned, but because 
you've forgotten the last item you copied, 
something that's all too easy to do. 

Fortunately, it's not necessary to rely 
on your memory to keep track of what's 
in the Clipboard. Windows includes a 



Clipboard viewing utility called Clip- 
board Viewer in Windows 98/Me and 
ClipBook Viewer in Windows 2000/XP. If 
you've ever taken a quick peek at this 
viewer, you may think all it does is let 
you view the contents of the Clipboard, 
but it's capable of much more. 

Install & Use Clipboard 
Viewer In Win98/Me 

Clipboard Viewer is not 
part of the default Win98/Me 
installation. To find out 
whether it's installed on your 
system, click Start, Programs, 
Accessories, and System 
Tools. If Clipboard Viewer 
isn't listed under Sys- 
tem Tools, you can in 
stall it in a matter 
of minutes. 
Click Start, Set- 
tings, and Control Pan- 
el. Double-click Add/ 
Remove Programs. Select the 
Windows Setup tab, scroll 
down the list of components, 
and select System Tools. Click 
the Details button. In the list 
of System Tools Components, 
put a check mark next to Clipboard 
Viewer and click OK. Follow the on- 
screen instructions to complete the instal- 
lation. You may need your Windows 
installation CD. 

You can then open Clipboard Viewer 
by clicking Start, Programs, Accessories, 
System Tools, and Clipboard Viewer. 

Use Clipboard Viewer. Clipboard 
Viewer allows you to view the contents 



of the Clipboard, save the contents of the 
Clipboard to a file (especially useful be- 
cause the Clipboard saves not only text 
but also formatting), view previously 
saved Clipboard files, and view the con- 
tents of the Clipboard in various formats. 

When you launch Clipboard Viewer, it 
displays the current contents of the 
Clipboard. (If you haven't yet used a Cut, 
Copy, or Paste command, Clipboard 
Viewer will display a blank image until 
you do.) 

Clipboard Viewer's display updates 
whenever new information is sent to the 
Clipboard. You can resize the Clipboard 
Viewer window and position it in an out- 
of-the-way area of your display. When 
you cut, copy, and paste within or be- 
tween documents, you can use Clipboard 
Viewer to keep track of what's in the 
Clipboard and avoid any surprises. 

Save and use the Clipboard's con- 
tents. Information stored in the Clip- 
board is transient in nature. New 
information replaces it when you issue 
another cut or copy command, and it 
disappears when you exit Windows or 
shut down your computer. 

You can use Clipboard Viewer to save 
the contents of the Clipboard for later use. 
Click File and Save As and select a target 
location to store the Clipboard file. Give 
the file a descriptive name and click OK. 

To open a saved Clipboard file, click 
File and Open. Navigate to the target 
file, which will have a .CLP (Clipboard) 
extension. Select the file and click OK. A 
dialog box will appear, asking if you 
want to clear the current contents of the 
Clipboard. Click Yes to replace the con- 
tents of the Clipboard with the informa- 
tion from the saved file. You can then 
use the Paste command in an applica- 
tion to paste the information into an 
open document. 

Use ClipBook Viewer In 
Win2000/XP 

To open the Viewer in either Win2000 
or WinXP, click Start and Run. Type 
clipbrd in the Open field and click OK. 

Win2000's ClipBook Viewer includes 
the basic features of Win98/Me's Clip- 
board Viewer plus a number of other ca- 
pabilities, turning a simple tool into a 



36 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



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You can display Local ClipBook pages as a table of 
contents, which can make it easier to find a specific item. 



File Edit Security View Window Help 



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Windows 2000's ClipBook Viewer has a large main 
window that contains two child windows, the Clipboard 
and the Local ClipBook. 




You can connect to other shared 
ClipBooks. Here, a connection is 
being made to the ClipBook stored 
on the computer Rosco-2000P. 

fairly robust one. You can save multiple 
Clipboards to a single Local ClipBook. 
Each saved Clipboard image becomes a 
page in the Local ClipBook with its own 
unique name. You can restore a ClipBook 
page to the Clipboard and use it in any 
application that supports the Clipboard. 
You can share ClipBook pages with col- 
leagues if they have ClipBook Viewer in- 
stalled. You can also control the way 
ClipBook pages are shared. 

WinXP's ClipBook Viewer has the 
same interface as Win2000's ClipBook 



Viewer, but because of a 
problem with the WinXP im- 
plementation, none of the 
advanced features, including 
Local ClipBook, are cur- 
rently available. 

Win2000's ClipBook 
Viewer 

When you open ClipBook 
Viewer in Win2000, you'll see 
a single window that con- 
tains menus and a toolbar. 
Within the main window are 
two child windows, Clip- 
board and Local ClipBook. 
The Clipboard window dis- 
plays the current contents of 
the Clipboard, and the Lo- 
cal ClipBook window dis- 
plays the contents of the 
Local ClipBook. Additional 
windows may display, de- 
pending on how you use 
ClipBook Viewer. 

You can use the Window 
menu to manage the child 
windows. You can configure 
these windows to cascade so each title 
bar is visible. You can tile the windows 
horizontally or vertically. Or you can 
display each child window as a col- 
lapsed window and arrange the col- 
lapsed windows as small title bar icons 
along the bottom of the main window. 
You can use the Window menu to re- 
fresh the contents of the child windows. 
Local ClipBook in Win2000. Each 
Clipboard you save is stored as a page in 
the Local ClipBook. Each page has its own 
name, making it easy to find a specific 
image, text, or other content. 

The Local ClipBook can display pages 
in three different ways: as a table of con- 
tents, where pages are displayed in a list 
by page name; as thumbnails, where each 
page is displayed as a small icon; and as a 
full page, where the selected page dis- 
plays full-sized in the ClipBook window. 

After selecting the Local ClipBook 
window, you can use the View menu or 
the toolbar buttons to control ClipBook 
Viewer display options. 

Save and use the Clipboard's con- 
tents. In both Win2000 and WinXP, you 



can use ClipBook Viewer to save the 
contents of the Clipboard to a file for 
later use. Click File and Save As and se- 
lect a target location to store the file. 
Give the file a descriptive name and 
click OK. 

Saving Clipboard items to a file en- 
sures you won't lose them, but this 
method doesn't offer a way to easily 
access or manipulate collections of 
saved Clipboard files. In Win2000, 
the Local ClipBook feature provides 
more flexibility. 

Save the Clipboard's contents to the 
ClipBook in Win2000 by clicking once 
within the Local ClipBook window to 
highlight it, or click Window and Local 
ClipBook. Next, click Edit and Paste. The 
Paste dialog box will open and ask you 
to name the page. Type a page name and 
click OK. 

Click within the Clipboard window 
to highlight it or click Window and 
Clipboard. Next, click File and Open. 
Navigate to the target file, which will 
have a .CLP file extension. Select the 
file and click OK. A dialog box will ap- 
pear, asking if you want to clear the 
current contents of the Clipboard. Click 
Yes. You can then paste the contents 
of the saved file into a currently 
open document. 

Use and share Local ClipBook pages. 
You can copy a ClipBook page back to 
the Clipboard and use the information in 
any application that supports the 
Clipboard. Click once within the Local 
ClipBook window to highlight it or click 
Window and Local ClipBook. Select the 
ClipBook page you want to copy. You 
can browse a list of pages by clicking 
View and Table Of Contents or by 
clicking the Table Of Contents button on 
the toolbar. You can also browse thumb- 
nails of ClipBook pages, which may be a 
better choice if you're looking for an 
image or if your page names aren't as 
descriptive as they could be. Click View 
and Thumbnails or click the Thumbnails 
button on the toolbar. 

If you want to be sure you've selected 
the right Clipboard page, you can use 
Full Page view for a closer look. Click 
View and Full Page or click the Full Page 
button on the toolbar. You can also 



PC Today / August 2004 37 



Jlxperts Only 



double-click the page's name or the 
thumbnail image to switch to Full 
Page view. 

After you locate the ClipBook 
page, click once on the page name, 
the page thumbnail, or the full- 
page view to select it and click Edit 
and Copy. This will copy the 
selected ClipBook page to the 
Clipboard, replacing any current 
information. You can then paste 
the contents of the Clipboard into 
an open document. 

You can share Local ClipBook 
pages with colleagues who have 
ClipBook Viewer installed, which 
is a handy way to ensure consis- 
tency in collaborative documents. 

Select a page, click File, and click 
Share. There are two optional 
choices in the Share ClipBook Page di- 
alog box. The first, Start Application On 
Connect, launches the application that 
originally created the data in the 
ClipBook page. This ensures that when- 
ever individuals link to the data, they 
get the most up-to-date copy. It also en- 
sures that they can use embedded appli- 
cation controls to manipulate the copied 
data. The second option, Run Min- 
imized, minimizes the application after 
it launches. These options are only used 
if an individual will link to the data 
rather than copy it into an application. 
Make your selection and click OK. 

Access a shared ClipBook page. 
When other individuals share ClipBook 
pages, you can access them by con- 
necting to the computer that contains the 
shared pages. Click File and Connect or 
click the Connect button in the toolbar. 
A list of available computers will dis- 
play in the Select Computer dialog box. 
Select the target computer and click OK. 
Provide your username and password, if 
required, and click OK. 

A new window, called ClipBook On 
WComputer Name (where Computer 
Name represents the name of the com- 
puter you connected to), will open 
within the main ClipBook Viewer 
window. You can treat this new window 
like any other Local ClipBook window. 
You can copy items from this window to 
your Clipboard and use them in any ap- 









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Displays the data in the default format. 



Clipboard/ClipBook Viewer can display a Clipboard or 
ClipBook page in any format that was included in the 
original Clipboard item. 



xj 



ClipBook Page: Install notes 
Owner; Administrators 

Name: 



Type ol Access: [Read 



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Read and Link 
Change 

Special... 



~3 

1 



Each ClipBook page has its own set of 
permissions. You can specify which individuals 
can access a page, as well as what they can do 
with the page, such as edit the contents. 

plication that supports the Clipboard. 
However, you are subject to any restric- 
tions imposed by the owner of the infor- 
mation. For example, you may not be 
able to change the contents of pages or 
link to pages. 

Security: Permissions, Audit, and 
Owner. Local ClipBook pages include 
security settings that allow you to con- 
trol who can access the information and 
how they can use it. To set security for a 
Local ClipBook page, highlight the page 
and click Security and Permissions, or 
you can click the Permissions button in 
the Sharing dialog box after you select 
a page. 

The Permissions dialog box includes a 
list of accounts, such as Administrator, 
Everyone, Guest, and Power User, and a 



level of access for each account. 
Select an account from the Name 
list and select the appropriate ac- 
cess type from the drop-down 
menu. Available access types in- 
clude No Access, Read, Read And 
Link, Change, Full Control, and 
Special. If you select Special, you 
can customize the access options 
from a list of all access types. 

To add other accounts to the list, 
click Add. Select an account from the 
Names list and click Add. When 
you're finished adding, click OK. 
Select the appropriate access type for 
each account and click OK. 

In addition to setting permissions, 
you can audit whoever is accessing 
your shared ClipBook pages and 
what they're doing with the pages. 
You must log in with an administrator ac- 
count to use this function. 

Select the page you want to audit and 
click Security and Auditing. The ClipBook 
Page Auditing dialog box will display a 
list of accounts. The list will be blank until 
you populate it with the accounts you 
want to track. Click the Add button to 
open the Add Users And Groups dialog 
box. Select an account and click Add. 
Repeat for any other accounts you want to 
audit and click OK. The ClipBook Page 
Auditing dialog box will display again, 
but this time it lists the accounts you 
added. Select an account and choose the 
events you want to audit. You can mon- 
itor successful or failed attempts in the 
following categories: Read, Delete, 
Change Permissions, and Change Audit 
Types. Click OK when you're finished. 

Each ClipBook page has an owner, 
which is the account that was in use 
when the page was created. The Owner 
has the inherent right to control the se- 
curity configuration of the page. To find 
out who owns a page, select it and click 
Security and Owner. The Owner dialog 
box displays the owner of the page. You 
can take over ownership rights if the 
Owner gave you the rights to change 
ownership or if you are a member of the 
administrator group. To take ownership, 
click the Take Ownership button. You 
can then change security settings for the 
page as you see fit. 



38 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



■ixpe 




ClipBook Viewer In WinXP 

Unfortunately, as we noted above, 
ClipBook Viewer is quite limited in 
WinXP. When you open ClipBook 
Viewer in WinXP, the current contents 
of the Clipboard will display in the 
Clipboard window, which may be min- 
imized at the bottom of the main 
window. Click the Maximize button to 
view the Clipboard window. 

You can also resize the ClipBook 
Viewer window and position it in an 
out-of-the-way area of your display. 
When you're busy cutting, copying, 
and pasting images, you can use 
ClipBook Viewer to keep track of 
what's in the Clipboard. 

Save the Clipboard's contents just as 
you would in Win2000. 

Use saved Clipboard files (WinXP). 
To open a saved Clipboard file, click 
File and Open. Navigate to the target 
file, which will have a .CLP file exten- 
sion. Select the file and click OK. A di- 
alog box will appear, asking if you 
want to clear the current contents of 
the Clipboard. Click Yes. You can then 
paste the contents of the saved file into 
a currently open document. 

Clipboard Formats In All 
Windows Versions 

The Clipboard may store a single 
piece of information in multiple for- 
mats to ensure that different applica- 
tions can use the data. Both the 
Clipboard and ClipBook Viewers rec- 
ognize the format of the data in the 
Clipboard and automatically use the 
proper format to display the data. 

The Viewer's Display menu lists all 
available formats for the current con- 
tents of the Clipboard. You can change 
the way data displays by selecting a 
different format. Changing the format 
doesn't change the actual data, only the 
way it displays in the Viewer. Click 
Display and select a format from the 
list. (Only formats included in the cur- 
rent contents of the Clipboard are 
available for selection.) 

To return to the original format, click 
Display and Auto (in Win98/Me) or 
click View and Default Format (in 
Win2000/WinXP). 



Third-Party Clipboard Utilities 

Both the Clipboard and ClipBook 
Viewers offer a number of useful fea- 
tures, particularly in Win2000, but you 
don't need to limit yourself to the built- 
in viewer. You can have most features, 
and quite a few additional ones, by using 
a third-party Clipboard viewing utility. 

Many third-party utilities can auto- 
matically save anything you copy to the 
Clipboard. Some include rules and fil- 
ters that automatically categorize items, 
making it easy to organize the informa- 
tion. Other features may include image 
manipulation tools, file compression 
tools, and the ability to convert between 
various formats. 

Here are a few possibilities. 

AccelClip 2.0 ($25.90; Flexigen 
Software; www.flexigensoft.com). 
AccelClip stores anything you put into 
the Clipboard in predefined or user-de- 
fined collections. Information stored in a 
collection is displayed in a Windows 
Explorer-style format. AccelClip supports 



"««■ 




Clipboard Viewer (in Windows 98/Me) uses 
a single window to display the current 
contents of the Clipboard. 

more than 40 text and graphics file for- 
mats and lets you edit the contents of the 
Clipboard. There is a 30-day shareware 
trial available, as well. 

Clip Boost ($14.95; Nexus Concepts; 
www.nexusconcepts.com). Clip Boost 
records items you copy to the Clipboard. 
You can view saved clips by name, pre- 
view items before using them, or email 
them to a colleague. Clip Boost resides 
in the System Tray so it's always readily 
available. You can also download a free 
30-day trial to test it. 

ClipMagic 3.01 ($29.99 for the 
Standard Edition; MJT Net Ltd; 



www.clipmagic.com). ClipMagic can 
store and categorize saved Clipboard 
items. You can define rules and filters to 
automate the management of these 
items and use the search and replace fea- 
tures to edit stored items. A free trial 
version is also available. 

ClipManager 5.11 Lite ($19.95; HE 
Systems; www.hesystems.com). Clip- 
Manager Lite is an Internet information 
manager, as well as a Clipboard utility. It 



li*l 



File name: 
Mountain Mist.clp 



Folders: 

C:\My Documents'^ Clips 



73 



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ad 

F~t My Documents 

tf3 My Clips 



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73 



You can save the contents of the Clipboard 
to a CLP file for future use. 

can store Web pages and email messages 
for offline browsing, complete with the 
original formatting. It can save and auto- 
categorize any information you send to 
the Clipboard and publish saved infor- 
mation to a Web page or e-magazine. A 
30-day trial is also available. 

Yankee Clipper X ($14.95; Joe Le- 
Vasseur and Konrad Krupa; www 
.yankee-clipper.net/index.html). 
Yankee Clipper can automatically cate- 
gorize or ignore Clipboard entries from 
specific applications. You can sort and 
search saved clippings or email them to 
colleagues. Yankee Clipper can float on 
top of open applications, so it's always 
available. There is a very nice 90-day 
trial period, also. 

Get The Most Out Of Your 
Clipboard 

The built-in Clipboard and ClipBook 
Viewers may seem to do everything you 
need, but it's worth trying out a few 
third-party Clipboard tools, if only to be 
sure you're not overlooking something 
useful or fun. Take advantage of the free 
trials so you can check them out before 
parting with your hard-earned cash, rcr 

by Tom Nelson and Mary 
O'Connor 



PC Today / August 2004 39 



-Hxperts Only 



Outside 
Email 



The Box: 
Tricks 

How To Use Email To Get Rid Of Spam 




Spam! Everybody gets it, nobody 
likes it. Call it what you want (unso- 
licited bulk email (UBE), junk email, or 
just spam (but any way you look at it it's 
irritating, time consuming, and offensive. 
Antispam service MessageLabs reported 
that during the month of April 2004, 67% 
of all received worldwide email was 
spam, and in the United States the per- 
centage was highest at 83%. 

So how do you reduce it and keep 
from getting more of it? While there's 
no foolproof way to avoid or stop spam 
except for unplugging your computer, 
there are ways to reduce the amount 
you do get. Keep in mind there's al- 
ways a balance between accessibility 
and privacy. 

In this article we'll look at how spam- 
mers get your name and how to reduce 
incoming spam. We can only scratch the 
surface in the field, and we've provided 



some resources at the end that you can 
use for further research. 

Why Spam? 

If you look at the mountains of col- 
lege degree offers, weight 
loss plans, money-making 
schemes, body enhancing 
drugs, patches, and po- 
tions, you have to ask, 
"Why?" Nobody would 
believe the fantastic claims, 
much less buy most of the 
junk that's pushed through 
spam, right? Wrong. Spam- 
mers buy or gather lists of 
names and send out thou- 
sands, if not millions, of 
emails. The spam, which 
costs the spammer little or 
nothing to send, actually 
finds its way to a small 



percentage of buyers. One of the first 
spammers arrested under the Can Spam 
Act was selling 100 orders a week of a 
bogus weight loss elixir. He said he 
made over $100,000 in his first six 
months in business. Not a bad return for 
sending out free email. Once someone 
buys, his name is escalated to a "live 
one" or "sucker" list, and his name is 
then more valuable. The spammer can 
then resell the name to someone else as a 
qualified buyer. While it's beyond our 
scope to analyze the psychology of why 
people buy from spammers, as long as 
they do, spamming will continue. 

How Spammers Get Your Name 

You've got a brand new email ad- 
dress and within what seems like min- 
utes, you have spam. How does this 
happen? There are dozens if not hun- 
dreds of ways spammers get your name. 
However, in general, spammers get your 
name in two ways: you give it to them, 
wittingly or not, or they take it. 

No such thing as a free lunch. 
Although nobody in their right mind 
would give their name to a spammer, 
people do it all the time. When you enter 
a contest, download software, or send an 
e-card, although it appears to be free 
you are actually paying with your email 
address. Vendors collect email ad- 
dresses, compile lists, and sell them to 
spammers. It's an advertising business 
model. This is the sole income for sites 
with free services. A friend recently 
signed up to send an innocent "congrat- 




Mosc people open email inboxes in the morning to a sight 
such as this, with more than 30 pieces of spam received in a 
three-hour period. 



40 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 




ulations on your baby" 
e-card, and within 
hours, both she and the 
new mom's inbox were 
packed with spam. 

Tell a friend. We've 
all found cartoons or 
pictures on the Web we 
want to share with 
others. Many Web sites 
make this easy to do 
with a Click Here To 
Tell A Friend link. Such 
links ask for your 
friend's email address 
and usually for your 
own, as well. The Web 
site just got two new 
email addresses. If you 
want to share a picture 
or cartoon on a site, 
copy and paste the ad- 
dress into a separate email so your 
friend can visit the site. 

Registration. Another Web site ploy for 
gathering names is the registration gim- 
mick. News sites are famous for this, re- 
quiring a "free" registration to access 
online content. Reputable news sites will 
display a privacy policy that usually de- 
scribes what is done with your name, 
email address, and any other data you 
provide. Some will tell you that they share 
your name with partners or third parties 
it's assumed you would be interested in. 

Agreeing to opt-in. Some sites will 
give you the option to not share your 
name when you sign up for free ser- 
vices. The default is almost always to 
allow sharing, and you have to actually 
click multiple options on the form to opt 
out of various services. Another 
"gotcha": If you forget to complete a re- 
quired field, such as phone number or 
age, the site redisplays the form and 
asks for the additional input. What also 
happens is that the sharing option sec- 
tion is filled in again, so you have to opt- 
out again; the vendor is betting you 
won't bother checking to opt-out again. 

Free email forwarding. We all switch 
our email address from time to time, and 
it's always a hassle to tell all our friends 
about it. Services such as BigFoot offer 
permanent addresses to migrant Internet 





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Aladdin SpamCatcher, like many 
antispam plug-ins, integrates 
with Outlook and offers nu- 
merous options that help train 
the filters to work better. 



users. BigFoot gives you 
an address such as 
myaddy@bigfoot.com 
and forwards messages 
sent to that address to 
your current real ad- 
dress. Opt-in adver- 
tising pays for this 
freebie service. BigFoot 
claims you'll only re- 
ceive a few emails in the 
categories you choose, 
but it isn't long before 
the address is spread 
around for any spam- 
mer to see. In addition, 
as with other common 
email domains, spam- 
mers may generate 
random email addresses 
with common names 
such as joesmith@big- 
foot.com and get spam to you that way. 

End user license agreements. Free 
software is another way spammers get 
your name. A popular notebook security 
product's EULA (end user license agree- 
ment) spells out that you must agree to 
accept unsolicited of- 
fers and other email 
from the company to 
use the software, for- 
ever. Most people 
never read EULAs 
and this is one they 
should. 

"Don't spam me" 
options. One of the 
provisions of the Can 
Spam Act is that 
spammers are sup- 
posed to offer recipi- 
ents a way to remove 
their name from the 
list. Unfortunately, it 
doesn't work. 

Spammers have 
long been using this 
idea to confirm live 
email recipients and probably won't stop 
anytime soon. If you click the "Remove 
Me" link, you're almost guaranteeing 
you'll get an increase in spam. While 
some spammers may honor your request, 
don't count on it. 



.. ■;::;■; :■:■ ■'■ -...;• ;• ■<:: 



"' ';'"] Type In- *■-:-.■■> r to reter to Ihi 

s[ server. For example: 'Work" or "Microsoft News 

Server". 



neivs.microsoti.com 
ser Information 



Organization: | 

E-mail address: RobertGHall^ah. 



Replji address: RoberlGHall@Y[removethisfirsl]arioocorri| 

I Include this account wrier ■.-:■ ::.:- : new messages 



Munging an email address involves 
inserting something a human can see 
and remove, but automated email 
address harvesters can't (such as our 
[removethisfirst] tag). 



Confirming email addresses without 
knowing it. Spammers also generate 
random email names in common do- 
mains, such as aol.com, to find live email 
addresses. While a lot of these random 
names end up in the bit bucket, many 
find recipients. The spammer can then 
find out which attempts reached live 
email addresses by using HTML and im- 
ages in the email. When you view an 
HTML page, any image on the page 
must be downloaded from a server. By 
using special coding on images (both 
visible and invisible "Web bugs") the 
spammer can confirm an address by en- 
coding a name in an image request. 

For example, a user with the email ad- 
dress georgesmith@yahoo.com receives an 
HTML email that he opens. His email 
client then requests a picture with the 
name spammer.com/pixl.george.smith- 
yahoo.jpg. The spammer's server then just 
strips off the email address and returns the 
picture. George sees the image, shrugs, 
and deletes it, never knowing he has just 
been tagged a real, live email recipient. To 
avoid this ploy, you can either use text- 
only email or turn off the feature that au- 
tomatically displays 
images. Outlook 2003 
has Image Download 
turned off by default, 
but you can still view 
images on a case-by- 
case basis depending 
on whether you trust 
the source. 

Additionally, if 
you decide not to turn 
off images or force 
text, you should be 
aware that previewing 
a message in Outlook 
is the same as opening 
it. In most versions, 
you can turn off pre- 
view by clicking the 
View menu and dese- 
lecting the reading 
pane or preview pane, depending on your 
Outlook or Outlook Express version. If 
you can't find the control, go to Help and 
search for the keyword "preview." 

"Do not spam" scams. A particularly 
nasty scam seen recently is the National 



PC Today / August 2004 41 



-Hxperts Only 



Do Not Spam Registry. Modeled 
after the National Do Not Call 
Registry Web page (www.donot- 
call.gov), this look-alike site takes 
names and promises to remove 
people's names from spam lists. 
Unfortunately, the National Do 
Not Spam Registry didn't exist, 
and the names were just sold to 
spammers. 

Yet another service offered to 
stop spam for a fee. This was es- 
pecially rotten since the service 
collected a fee to send your name 
to the "remove me" links (men- 
tioned above) on every piece of 
spam collected. Yet again, users 
were guaranteed to get more 
spam. The government shut 
down the National Do Not Spam 
Registry, but the fee-based ser- 
vice was not doing anything il- 
legal, just stupid. 

The Web is full of free offers 
and services, and address-gath- 
ering sites will often make it 
seem like your privacy is pro- 
tected. Unfortunately opt-outs, 
privacy policies, and EULAs are 
often only as good as the bits 
they are written with. A pre- 
mium email forwarding service 
offers a free service in exchange 
for users accepting a "few" unso- 
licited emails a week from "se- 
lected" vendors in categories you 
choose. We found that the cate- 
gories and the limits were mean- 
ingless as we got an avalanche of 
spam, none of which was in the category 
we choose. 

Email Techniques To Stop Spam 

Spammers don't wait until you give 
them your name, they just take it. This is 
one of the most common ways people 
lose their privacy. Posting a message on a 
newsgroup, signing a guest book, or 
putting a mail-to address on your Web 
site are all invitations to spamming. Using 
techniques similar to search engines, they 
create programs or bots that crawl Web 
sites looking for email address pattern 
strings such as someone@something.com. 
If your email address is in text on a Web 



SMailinator 

be .anyone. 




<i|.-|...:.n.Vm.im....ji 




The Mailinator offers Web-based email viewing and randomly 
named throwaway email addresses you can use until they 
accumulate too much spam. 



Gowgle — a— 



To lemeve youi iesiilenli.il lislimj inf i in.iti ii from the Google phonebook, please fill 01 



■.-.. ;■■■ - .■■. . : - ■■■■■■ ■■ 
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Google and other sites offer ways to remove your name, 
address, and phone number from the directory. 



page, it's fair game. The bots are auto- 
mated and will often just randomly select 
a range of IP (Internet Protocol) ad- 
dresses, and visit the sites residing there. 
It's a simple task for them to download 
every page on a site and scan for email 
addresses. As it collects addresses, the 
program may filter for duplicates, or 
other things such as munging (more 
about that in a moment), and build a list. 
Since it's all automated, a single PC could 
scan thousands of sites a day and easily 
build a formidable list in a short time. 

Mung your name. It's not possible to 
stop these bots from scanning the 
Internet looking for addresses, but it is 



possible to slow them down or 
prevent them from gathering 
yours. One time-tested way is to 
mung, or "mash until no good," 
your email name. This is most 
often used when posting to news- 
groups and involves changing 
the email address with a string of 
characters that a human reader 
can detect but a spam bot can't. 
For example, if you have an email 
address like billsmith@yahoo 
.com (sorry, Bill, if you exist) you 
can change it to billsmith@ya[no- 
spam-here]hoo.com. A human 
reader will see the [no-spam- 
here] portion and remove it to 
make a complete address. A bot, 
on the other hand, will attempt to 
send mail to that address, and it 
will be returned. 

A rule of thumb is to mung the 
right (domain) side of the ad- 
dress, not the left (username); 
doing it this way causes less 
stress for your email domain 
provider. With the munged do- 
main, the address doesn't re- 
solve, and messages sent to it are 
returned to the spammer. But 
with a munged username and a 
real domain, messages will be 
forwarded to your ISP or email 
server. If you have your own do- 
main server, it probably forwards 
all unrecognized usernames to a 
single master or default account, 

so you get the spam anyway. 

Keep your antivirus software 
current. The latest worms and viruses 
have both sent spam and fed email ad- 
dresses to spammers, so it's important to 
keep your antivirus utilities up-to-date. 
Viruses such as Bobax or Sobig can turn 
infected machines into spam-spewing 
zombies. They also scan each victim's 
address book and files for email ad- 
dresses, send copies of themselves to 
those recipients, and often send the ac- 
quired address lists back to the attacker. 
One especially rich source for address 
harvesting is email with lots of recipient 
addresses (like forwarded jokes and in- 
spirational messages). Using the BCC 
option when you send to more than one 



42 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



■ixpe 




Resources 






| | ere are some of the 
1 1 best resources avail- 


provides permission- 


filters spam at the 


based email service. 


server level. 


able for information 


• MailBlocks (www 


• Only My Email 


about using email to 


.mailblocks.com) fea- 


(www.onlymyemail 


halt spam. 


tures challenge- 


.com/services) also 


Disposable & Keyed 
Email Addresses 


response email ser- 
vices with white lists 
(lists of permitted 


offers email accounts. 
• Spam i h i lator (www 
.spamihilator.com) 


• Dodgeit (www 


email senders). 


makes freeware 


.dodgeit.com) also 


• Qurb (www.qurb 


antispam filters 


offers news feed 


.com) offers an 


and plug-ins. 


options. 


Outlook plug-in for 




• Spam Motel (www 
.spammotel.com) 


challenge-response 
email service. 


Antispam 
Organizations 


provides disposable 


• SpamBully (www 


• CAUCE (Coalition 


email addresses that 


.spambully.com) vows 


Against Unsolicited 


let you track who's 


to "end your 


Commercial Email; 


selling your name. 


spam nightmare." 


www.cauce.org) is an 


• Spamex (www.spamex 
.com) also offers 


Filtering Services 


all-volunteer antispam 
organization. 


tracking. 


• Cloudmark (www 


• MSExchange.org Anti 


• Spamgourmet (www 


.cloudmark.com) 


Spam Section 


.spamgourmet.com) 


provides a commu- 


(antispam 


offers disposable email 


nity-based spam filter. 


.msexchange .org) 


with forwarding. 


• Earthlink spamBlocker 


provides antispam 


• ZoEmail (www 


( www.earth 1 i n k.net 


news for those using 


.zoemail.com) uses 


/spamblocker) offers an 


Microsoft Exchange. 


keyed addresses so 


Outlook plug-in and 


• SpamAbuse.org 


you can let through 


filters spam at the 


(www.spamabuse.org) 


people you know, 


server level. 


offers news and tools 


block those you don't. 


• Mail Frontier (www 


for fighting spam. 


and see who's selling 


.mailfrontier.com) 


• Spamhaus Project 


your email address. 


provides filtering 


(www.spam haus.org) 


Challenge-Response 
Services 


services for Desktop 
and enterprise 
users alike. 


tracks spam and 
provides news and 
protection. 


• ChoiceMail 


• MailZapper (www 




(www.digiportal.com) 


.mailzapper.com) 





recipient will keep those endless lists of 
email addresses from being propagated 
(also a privacy risk). If you have one 
friend you want to send to, copy and 
paste the joke into a new message. 

Use disposable addresses. There are 
times when you need to sign up for 
something that requires a real email ad- 
dress, such as a trial software license 
key. For these you need to have a real 
email account that a machine can read. 
For this, you can use a throwaway email 
address. There are two types of throw- 



away accounts. The first is one usually a 
receive-only account that often just posts 
new messages to an accessible place. 
Tesee services, such as Mailina- 
tor (www.mailinator.com), Jetable 
(www.jetable.org), and Dodgit 
(www.dodgeit.com), let you create a re- 
ceive-only email address to give out, 
and posts all messages sent to that ad- 
dress on a Web page. The advantage is 
that you can check your mail on the site, 
and there's no connection to your real 
email address. Dodgit offers mail as an 



XML RSS feed you can subscribe to au- 
tomatically receive mail. When it gets 
saturated with spam, just unsubscribe. 

The other type of disposable address 
forwards messages to your permanent 
email address. There are both paid and 
free services in this category. Free ser- 
vices, such as GishPuppy (www.gish- 
puppy.com) and KasMail (www 
.kasmail.com), require you to register. In 
exchange, you agree to accept email of- 
fers and news from them, so with these 
services you may be jumping from the 
frying pan into the fire. If you try one of 
them, read the fine print first. They may, 
as is the case with KasMail, never delete 
your information. Another option is to 
use free services such as Yahoo!, 
Hotmail, or Google's upcoming Gmail. 
When that account gets saturated, cancel 
it and open a new one. 

Track spam. If you have your own 
domain, you can create your own throw- 
away email addresses. As we mentioned 
earlier, many email servers forward any 
unknown users to the master account. 
Whenever you sign up for a newsletter, 
or free service, you can use a unique 
name, and it all gets forwarded to the 
master account. If you use a name such 
as nytimes@yourdomain.com you can 
see if someone sold your address. 

Remove your name from public di- 
rectories. Another way spammers can 
get your email (or even your phone 
number) is from public directories such 
as Yahoo! People Search (www. people 
.yahoo.com) or Google (www. google 
.com). Most of these services will let you 
remove your name from their database, 
but you have to ask. 

With most of these directories, you'll 
have to search your name for the exact 
listing before you can remove your 
name. 

Further Reading 

There is much more spam-blocking 
information than we could fit in this ar- 
ticle. Check out the possibilities in the 
"Resources" sidebar for some additional 
antispam options, pct 

by Jay Munro 



PC Today / August 2004 43 



LC FLATRONT LCDs. 

Available in LG, XLC and XXLC 




©2004 LC EleLlrunits U.S.A., Int. 



Available at: 



BesfBuycom 




L2320A-23" Wide-Screen HD/WUXGA LCD Monitor 





Because one size does not fit all. 

With screen sizes from 15" to 30", offering features 
such as DVI and HD inputs or TV 1'uncLion, there's 
a perfect LG fit for every home or office. LG LCD 
monitors offer exceptional quality, innovative 
features and are all backed by an outstanding 
3 -year replacement warranty. 

The view is better with LC. 

www.LCUSA.com 



(9. 




LG 



r o d 



Cover Story: 



hareware For Windows 



\\[l 


1 * 1 m 



I 




% 





Ta 


ibleOfConten 


ts 




Back Up Your Data 
CleanUp Time 
Zip It 


50 
52 




Streamline Your Registry 
Email Clients 


56 
58 




Browser Managers 
Protect Yourself 


60 
62 




Customize It 






Time Is Money 











hareware is software you can try before you buy. It's also an inexpensive way for software developers to market and dis- 
tribute their products. Almost all types of software are available as shareware. In our feature section this month, we focus on 
shareware system utilities and tools. These products are designed to enhance your Windows O! 
Typically, you download shareware from the Internet to your Windows Desktop or to a folder on your PC's hard drive. To inst 
shareware, close all other applications, double-click the download file, and follow the on-screen instructions. Most shareware has a 
trial period that ranges from 15 to 45 days, and you agree to purchase the product after the trial period if you decide to keep it. 

Depending on the product, some functions may not be operational during the trial period. Generally, a nag screen reminds you 
of the number of days remaining in the trial period and tells you how to purchase the shareware. Typical shareware prices range 
from $15 to $45. By contrast, some products, known as freeware, have no cost at all. 

There are a number of ways to find shareware. Many shareware developers create their own Web sites, and our reviews include this 
information when applicable. By downloading directly from the shareware author's site, you can learn about the product directly from its 
source. However, unless you have access to an independent review or recommendation, you are also placing your trust in the developer. 



Some developers may bundle viruses and 
spyware (software that secretly tracks 
your movements on the Internet) with 
the shareware. 

An alternative to developer-sponsored 
sites, shareware portal sites serve up large 
collections of products. On these sites, 
you can often learn about shareware by 
reading user opinions, user ratings, and 
independent reviews. Many shareware 
portals screen products for viruses, func- 
tionality, and reliability. For faster down- 
loads, the portals also offer mirror sites, 
which are duplicates of the source site. 
When you select a mirror site close to you, 
downloads are usually faster compared 
to a distant site. 



Our Recommendations 

To help you learn more about share- 
ware portals, we examined four of them. 
We came away with three sites we recom- 
mend and one we don't recommend. Most 
of the products included in our shareware 
reviews should be available from one or 
more of our recommended sites. 

Recommended: 
CNET's Download.com 
(www.download.com) 

Probably the most well-known share- 
ware distributor, Download.com handles 
millions of downloads every week. The 
site's software section features hundreds 



of product categories that are organized 
in levels that make it easy to find what 
you're looking for. 

An extensive user-rating system lets 
you peruse the opinions of others who 
have tried the products. Each product's 
information page gives you the total 
number of user comments and the 
percentage of thumbs up and thumbs 
down votes. 

In addition to browsing for products, 
you can use Download.com's basic and 
advanced search capabilities. When the 
site displays a list of products that match 
what you are browsing or searching for, 
you can click on a column heading to 
reorganize the product list. 



46 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



c, 



over Stc 



Shareware For Windows 



I 





also pay a processing fee to pub- 
lish programs on the site. Before 
a product is available to site visi- 
tors, the Download.com staff 
screens it for viruses, inappro- 
priate content, and stability. 
Other shareware Web sites, 
such as Shareware.com 
(www.shareware.com) 
and MSN Downloads 
(tech.msn.com 
/downloads), also use 
Download.com as a re- 
source. These sites dis- 
tribute software from 
Download.com, but 

they have a different 

look and Web interface. 

Downloading shareware 
from Download.com is quick 
and easy. From a product's in- 
formation page, you can view 
the estimated download time 
by selecting your Internet con- 
nection type. Click the Download 
_^^^^^ Now icon to 





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If you 
would like to 
know about the 
products other com- 
puter users are down- 
loading, you can view Download.com's 
list of most popular titles and its share- 
ware Hall Of Fame. Download.com also 
compiles a list of top-rated products and 
recent additions to the site. 

Download.com does not use pop-up 
ads to generate income. The site does use 
banner ads and sponsor ads, but they 
don't get in the way. Software authors 



get the 
download process 
underway. For a faster 
download, Download.com links to the 
CNET Secure Relay network. The network 
taps into other computers to find the fast- 
est download for your PC and requires 
you to install a plug-in, which it provides. 

Recommended: 

MajorGeeks.com 

(www.majorgeeks.com) 

Unlike many shareware portals, 
MajorGeeks.com is not associated with 
a large Internet-based conglomerate. 



CNET's Download.com is one of the most well-known 
sites for distribution of shareware. In addition to soft- 
ware, you can find music and games. 



A couple of guys who go by the names 
Tim and Jim produce the site and dis- 
tribute shareware with a relaxed, con- 
versational tone. What's more, the site 
features a clean interface that is easy 
to navigate. 

MajorGeeks.com organizes its share- 
ware inventory into about 30 categories. 
Within each category, you can sort prod- 
ucts by name, date issued, type of li- 
cense, OS, and popularity. The search 
feature offers a full text search and 
comes with tips on how to effectively 
structure your query. You can also sort 
the search results. 

The site does not compile user ratings, 
but the site owners do screen all programs 
for usability. This does not necessarily in- 
dicate that MajorGeeks.com recommends 
all of the products on its site. It does mean 
that the shareware should be functional, 
virus-free, and reliable. 

To download software, the product 
information pages offer several sites to 
choose from, including MajorGeeks.com 
and the author's Web site. Unfortu- 
nately, there is not much information to 



PC Today / August 2004 47 



^over Stc 



Shareware For Windows 



help you decide which download 
site is best based on your location 
or connection speed. If the down- 
load seems slow, cancel it and try 
another download location. 

MajorGeeks.com does not use 
pop-up ads to generate income. 
It does include a few banner ads, 
mostly for products unrelated to the 
shareware on the site. In addition, 
some product descriptions include 
highlighted words that are in fact 
sponsored links to other Web sites. 
Thankfully, MajorGeeks.com in- 
forms you of this by displaying 
a bubble tip when you move the 
pointer over the link. 



> 



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,■/< rooks com- No o-eek, no glory " 




#' ASUS PC Probe 2.22.09 [ J Mh I Freeware I Win All] 
Monitors vital information on Asus motherOoards 

4? UltraMon 2.5 I : : M : :r Mm 124 35 I w.r, aii| 
Got the most out of your multi-monitor system. 

tl GFI Network Server Monitor 5.5 Beta 1 3 8 Mb 
: : ; - rtfel xpr2W2DTJ3] W 

Monitor your neryvork & severs for failures and fixtnem 
automatically 




The MajorCeeks.com shareware Web site offers a bit of 
humor with its download service. This independent site 
features a clean, easy-to-use interface. 



Recommended: Tucows 
(www.tucows.com) 

Featuring its five-cow rating 
system, Tucows offers more 
than 40,000 software titles. Each 
product is independently tested 
and reviewed by the Tucows staff. 

Tucows presents a variety of 
ways to find shareware. From 
the home page, you can select 
your OS (Windows, Mac, Linux, 
Mobile/PDA) and results appear 
in a corresponding page that 
lists the most popular categories, 
the most popular programs in 
each category, and the most re- 
cent additions. If you click a cat- 
egory from this page, numerous 
subcategories display in order of 
popularity. If this list seems over- 
whelming, click the main categories at 
the top of the page to display products 
grouped by application type. 

The search feature is always available 
in the upper right of the Tucows Web 
pages, and it includes an advanced 
search option. Because you cannot sort 
the search results, it's best to use the 
advanced option to narrow the field as 
much as possible. 

For fast downloads, Tucows offers 
more than 1,000 mirror sites. When you 
click a download link, Tucows prompts 
you to choose a mirror site if you have not 
already done so. 

Tucows does not pester you with pop- 
up ads, but it does have some banner ads. 




The staff at Tucows reviews all of the thousands of shareware 
products offered on the site. Only the best products receive 
the coveted five-cow rating. 



And the site is not quite as easy to navi- 
gate as some of the other sites we re- 
viewed, but it offers nice features. 

Not Recommended: WinSite 
(www.winsite.com) 

Our main complaint with WinSite is 
its pop-up ads. The pop-ups display as 
you search for software, and WinSite 
also uses numerous third-party cookies 
that track your movements. 

Like the other sites we reviewed, 
WinSite lets you browse for products. It 
offers a well-organized Browse WinSite 
page with links for you to find new prod- 
ucts, hot products, and the most popular 
products. You can also view shareware 
according to OS and type of application. 



WinSite also includes basic and ad- 
vanced search features. The site lists 
products in order of the date posted 
on WinSite. Unfortunately, you 
cannot manipulate the sort order. 

WinSite's home page is rather 
cluttered with understated links 
to the Browse WinSite and Search 
WinSite features. By contrast, the 
product information pages in- 
clude a lot of detail, such as the 
product's system requirements, 
file size, and developer. 

In addition, WinSite includes a 
user rating system that lets users 
rate products on a scale of 1 (awful) 
to 10 (excellent). Compared to 
Download.com, WinSite's user 
ratings are not as extensive and 
lack the ability to view only nega- 
tive or only positive comments. 

The most unpleasant feature of 
WinSite is the download function. 
When we attempted to download 
a product, WinSite placed a large 
pop-up advertisement on-screen. 
The X to close the ad window was 
actually a link to a third-party site. 
When the download page finally 
did display, another 10 seconds 
passed before the download 
began. You can skip the download 
process altogether by paying $9.95 
plus shipping and WinSite will 
burn a CD with your selections. 

WinSite screens its shareware 
library for viruses and basic us- 
ability. It also lets you register to receive 
bi-monthly notices about new products of 
interest to you. Despite these and other 
positives, WinSite's pop-up ads and third- 
party cookies overshadow its usefulness. 

Try It, You'll Like It 

Without a doubt, shareware is one of 
the best values on the Internet today. 
Read our shareware reviews in the fol- 
lowing pages to learn more about some 
great system utilities and tools, and don't 
hesitate to take advantage of the "try 
before you buy" philosophy, pct 

by Carmen Carmack 



48 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



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be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies. 



Cover Story 





Your Data 



Keep Your Data Safe With A Better Backup Program 



KcitinSS AJSystems.com Eazy Backup 


Interface: 


Mill 


III 


9 


Performance: 


Mill 


III 


9 


Features: 


Mill 


III 


9 


Documentation: 


Mill 


MM 


10 


OVERALL: 


Mill 


III 


9 



If you're like most computer users, 
you know that you should back up 
the data on your hard drive on a reg- 
ular basis, but chances are that you 
don't always follow that rule. Although 
there may be a multitude of reasons why 
you don't back up data regularly, one 
thing is for sure: Microsoft doesn't make it 
easy. Of course, every version of the 
Windows OS does indeed come with a 
backup utility, but it's usually limited in 
capability and often it's not even easily ac- 
cessible. Furthermore, each version uses a 
different format so backup files aren't 
even compatible among all versions. 

Fortunately, there are a lot of alterna- 
tives. We'll take a look at four popular 
shareware utilities for backing up your 
hard drive. 

AJSystems.com Eazy Backup 

15-day free trial; $49.95 
AJSystems.com 
sales@ajsystems.com 
www.ajsystems.com 
File size: 6.5MB 

If you want a quick backup solution 
that is easy to use and doesn't have a lot 
of extra bells and whistles, then Eazy 
Backup is for you. As soon as you install 
the program, with its wizard-driven 



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Check the Application Group (s) you would like to include in this backup. 




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Application Group | Title Ver 


Personal Groups 


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New Group 












| Clone Group | 






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AJSystems.com Eazy Backup provides a list 
of preconfigured backup sets, which makes 
using the program simple. 

interface, Eazy Backup is ready to go to 
work. You really don't need to configure 
anything because the program comes pre- 
configured backups called backup sets. 
You'll also discover preconfigured 
backup sets for many of the popular ap- 
plications containing data you should reg- 
ularly back up, such as Money, Quicken, 
QuickBooks, or ACT. And of course, 
you can create customized backup sets if 
you need to. 

Eazy Backup can back up to any hard 
drive, network drive, and most common 
removable media. In order to back up di- 
rectly to CD or DVD, you must have 
third-party burning software installed. 
This applies to Windows XP, as well, be- 
cause Eazy Backup is not compatible with 
WinXP's built-in burning software. 

You can set backup reminders or 
schedule unattended backups. Eazy 
Backup also ncludes a Live Update feature 
that lets you retrieve the latest version. 

Restoring an entire backup set or an 
individual file is a very straightforward 
operation; just click the Restore button 
and follow the wizard's instructions. 



Centered Systems Second Copy 

30-day free trial; $29.95 
Centered Systems 
www.centered.com 
File Size: 1MB 

Wouldn't it be nice if your system were 
intelligent enough to automatically back 
up your important data all by itself? You 
can make this a reality with a little help 
from Second Copy. Unlike a standard 
backup utility that runs a scheduled daily 
or weekly backup, Second Copy runs con- 
tinuously in the background and moni- 
tors the selected folders on your hard 
drive. The program automatically backs 
up any new or changed files at customiz- 
able intervals, which range from every 
few minutes to once a week. 

Second Copy is basically a "set it and 
forget it" type of backup utility in that 
once you install and configure it, you 
never have to worry about backing up 
your data again. In fact, you probably 
won't mess with the program at all unless 
you want to change the backup settings. 

Second Copy calls its backup sets pro- 
files, and there are a number of ways you 
can create a profile including dragging a 
folder and dropping it on the main 
window. The Express Setup uses a basic 
set of options while the Custom Setup lets 



Ratings 



Centered Systems 
Second Copy 



Interface: 

Performance: 

Features: 

Documentation: 

OVERALL: 



1 1 1 1 1 1 1 
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 

mini 
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 




50 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 




you specify indi- 
vidual files, set compression op- 
tions, and enable password protection. 
You can even choose from several types of 
copy operations that range from a simple 
copy to a more complex operation that 
deletes obsolete files from the destination. 

Second Copy can back up to a hard 
drive, a network drive, and any remov- 
able media including CD or DVD as 
long as you have third-party burning 
software installed. 

RD Technologies Backup2004 Pro 

30-day free trial; $65 
RD Technologies 
support@backup2004.com 
www.backup2004.com 
File size: 9.5MB 

If you consider yourself a power user 
or are looking for a professional backup 
utility for a small to medium-sized busi- 
ness, then you owe it to yourself to take a 
serious look at Backup2004 Pro. This full- 
featured backup utility will give any com- 
mercial backup utility a run for its money. 
Although Backup2004 Pro doesn't sup- 
port backing up to tape, it can back up to 
a hard drive, a network drive, and to most 
common removable media including CD 
and DVD. And best of all, it comes with 
its own burning software that supports 
multispanning to CD or DVD, so you can 
put large backups seamlessly on multiple 
discs. In addition, Backup2004 Pro can 
upload backup files to an FTP or HTTP 
server for off site storage. 

Creating backup sets is a snap in 
Backup2004 Pro. You can use the Backup 
Set Wizard or perform the task manually 
in the familiar Windows Explorer-like 
interface. This interface makes it easy to 
select the files you want to back up, 



In Backup2004Pro, the Windows Explorer- 
like interface lets you easily select files you 
want to back up and the location in which 
you want to save the data. 

choose the backup destination, as well as 
configure a whole slew of other options. 
When it comes time to restore the en- 
tire backup set or a single file, this task 
is just as easy. To make quick work of 
locating and restoring individual files, 
Backup2004 Pro's Catalog provides you 
with a detailed view complete with mul- 
tiple sorting options. 

ZipBackup 

30-day free trial; $29.95 
ZipBackup 

help@zipbackup.com 
www.zipbackup.com 
File size: 1.4MB 

ZipBackup provides a nice interface for 
backing up your data to standard zipped 
files. This simple utility doesn't have a lot 
of high-powered features, but the ones 
that it does provide are more than suffi- 
cient for the task. 



Ratines 


Backup2004 Pro 


Interface: 


MINIM 9 


Performance: 


9 


Features: 


10 


Documentation: 


10 


OVERALL: 


llllllllll 9.5 



hareware For Windows 



ZipBackup can back up to a 
hard drive, a network drive, or 
any removable media. However, in 
order to back up directly to CD or 
DVD, you must have third-party 
burning software installed because 
ZipBackup cannot integrate with Win- 
dows XP's built-in CD-burning feature. 

You can use ZipBackup's default 
wizard-based interface to back up data or 
you can use the more traditional Win- 
dows Explorer-like interface to manually 
configure the backup. ZipBackup inte- 
grates with Windows' built-in Task 
Scheduler, so you can easily schedule 
when backups occur. You can also use the 
program to perform full, incremental, and 
differential backups. After a backup is 
complete, you can view the detailed 
report of the operation. The report not 
only provides a list of the backed up files, 
but it also includes elapsed time and com- 
pression information, as well as details on 
any errors that might occur. 

Restoring files you backed up using 
ZipBackup is easy. Not only can you per- 
form the restore operation from within 
either of ZipBackup's interfaces, but you 
also can use any compression utility, such 
as WinZip or WinXP's built-in Com- 
pressed Folders feature, to extract and 
restore files. The fact that you can use a 
compression utility to restore files really 
makes ZipBackup extremely versatile in 
that the backups that it creates can be 
used to easily restore and transport files 
to any computer. 

You're Not Stuck 

As you can see, you're not stuck with 
Microsoft's backup program. Using any 
one of the programs we looked at, you 
can easily perform regular backups and 
keep your data safe, pct 



by Greg Shultz 



Ratings 



Zip Backup 



Interface: 9 

Performance: 9 

Features: 9 

Documentation: 8 

OVERALL: lllllllll 9 



PC Today / August 2004 51 



Make A File-Cleaning Program Do Your Dirty Work For You 



Every time you go online, you load 
a bunch of junk on your hard 
drive. The culprits are temporary 
Internet files and cookies, items that Web 
sites place on your hard drive to enhance 
your interaction and speed up reloading 
the pages you revisit. And they're only 
part of the clutter on your computer. 

If your hard drive is getting clogged up, 
you need the help of a file-cleaning pro- 
gram. A number of these are available on 
the Web in the form of shareware. Here's 
our rundown of some of them. 

R-Wipe & Clean 3.0 

15-day trial; $28.99 
R-tools Technology 
(905) 780-0600 
www.r-tt.com 
File size: 1.31MB 

R-Wipe & Clean 3.0 is a good option for 
anyone who has never used a file-cleaning 
program. It sports an easy-to-navigate in- 
terface; if you're comfortable clicking your 
way around Windows Explorer, then 
you'll handle R-Wipe with no problems. 
In fact, you can use R-Wipe without 
opening the program. Just right-click an 
item you want to delete and choose Delete 
And Wipe! from the pop-up menu. 



Ratings 



R-Wipe & Clean 3.0 



Interface: 

Performance: 

Features: 

Documentation: 

OVERALL: 



MINIM 

IIIMIMI 

IIIMIMI 

IMIIMM 

IIIMIMI 



8.5 
8.5 
9 
8.5 



Is— 
Ma— . 

dS£S 



jj Temporary Internet Filei 



You'll find five file-wiping methods in R-Wipe 
&c Clean, which remove files beyond recovery. 

Once you open R-Wipe, you can pick 
folders to erase from three categories ap- 
pearing in the Tree View menu: Internet, 
System, and Application Recent Files. You 
can also clean up unused space on your 
drives and Wipe Lists. You can clean 
these lists manually or schedule a Wipe 
List as part of a larger task that will run at 
intervals (from hourly to monthly) and at 
scheduled times (at startup, for instance). 

By default, the TreeView menu lists 
such commonly targeted cleaning spots 
as cookies, temporary files, and files 
in the Recycle Bin, plus less-common 
items, such as invalid Desktop shortcuts. 
Unfortunately, the file size of the items 
listed in each category is not shown. 
Still, TreeView gives you a good idea of 
just how much junk you can accumulate 
over time. 

That brings us to erasing methods. R- 
Wipe offers five methods for wiping files 
and disks. The default method for files, 
DoD 5220.22M (3), is a secure but slow 
method developed for the Department of 
Defense. It took more than an hour for it 
to wipe away all our temporary Internet 



files. The more secure method you select, 
the more slowly it works. 

R-Wipe works with Internet Explorer, 
Netscape, Mozilla, and other browsers. It 
runs on Windows 98 and newer systems 
and requires 3.1MB free hard drive space. 

EasyCleaner 1 .0 

10-day trial; $19.95 
Trio Software 
info@easycleaner.tk 
www.easycleaner.tk 
File size: 591 KB 

Normally, we're drawn to programs 
that bill themselves as "easy." In the case 
of EasyCleaner 1.0, however, this program 
may be too easy — as in, too lightweight. 

The main interface offers seven cate- 
gories of files you can delete with the click 
of a button. We like the fact that the 
number of files and folders in each cate- 
gory is listed, as well as the amount of 
space that you can free up. 

Unfortunately, there's no way to open 
each category from within the program to 
view the contents, nor is there any way to 
tell what kind of file-erasing method, if 
any, the program uses. In addition to re- 
moving the contents of the seven cate- 
gories listed, EasyCleaner can scan your 



Ratings 



EasyCleaner 1.0 



Interface: 

Performance: 

Features: 

Documentation: 

OVERALL: 



llllll 

lllllll 

Mill 

II 

Mill 



52 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 




hard drive andj 
find junk files, 
which you 
can then del- 
ete. In just a 
few seconds, it 
scanned the more 
than 95,000 files on our hard drive 
and found 10 to delete. However, we 
couldn't find a way to use EasyCleaner to 
delete files that we chose. 

EasyCleaner installs on Windows 95 
and newer systems and requires about 
600KB free hard drive space. 



EusY^lvniiiT 



J 



Settings | Help | 

Filters | Cleaning | 



| F„e 5 Folders 8k*l 


B _J Sweep Temporary Internet Files 


51455 


32 


532.65 MB 


EQSweeplnternet cooties 


599 





157.33 KB 


E .2] Sweep Slart menu Docirmenls 


153 





128.52 KB 


E _J Sweep Temporary Windows die 


176 


28 


20.33 MB 


_J Sweep Interne! History 


2 


5 


0.22 KB 


□ .1) Sweep Other temporary files 





Ij 


(USE FILTER] 


E_ISweepRecjcleBin 


SS 


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28.42 MB 


Info 


Fil,, 


Fold., 


Si, 



I UNREGISTERED! I! 



DC 



3 



EasyCleaner works quickly and is indeed easy 
to use, but it doesn't offer many extras. 



System Sweeper 1 .1 .7 

Unlimited trial, partial version; $22 

TKSoftware 

info@tksoftware.biz 

www.tksoftware.biz 

File size: 591 KB 

The main interface for System Sweeper 
may seem a bit sparse at first, but there's a 
lot more than meets the eye. It offers four 
main views — Folder, File, Ignored Items, 
and Drives. The first two list six folder 
types and 31 junk-file types that the pro- 
gram will look for when you conduct a 
search for garbage. You can easily modify 
all four lists and request System Sweeper 
to search multiple drives at the same time. 
After you conduct a search, you can view 
the results in the Found Items view. Each 



unk item 
is listed by 
name, along 
with its path, 
size, and last 
modification 
date. You can sort 
this list by any of 
those four characteris- 
tics. By default, all items 
in this view are checked. 
However, you can uncheck any item you 
don't want to take action on or remove it 
from the list. 

Once you've verified this list, you can 
perform several different actions on the 
checked items. You can permanently 



Ratines 


System Sweeper 1.1.7 


Interface: 


MINIM 9 


Performance: 


8 


Features: 


6.5 


Documentation: 


8 


OVERALL: 


7.5 



delete them, send them to the Recycle Bin, 
or place them in a compressed file. 

System Sweeper doesn't offer methods 
of file wiping, just file deletion. However, 
the program is easy-to-use and provides 
flexibility when setting up a search. You'll 
need Win98 or later and at least 3MB free 
hard drive space to use System Sweeper. 

Clean Machine 3.0 

30-use, partial version; $33 
J.C. Software Development 
jcsdev@ntlworld.com 
homepage.ntlworld.com/jcsdev 
File size: 3.15MB 

Before you attempt to do anything 
in Clean Machine, make sure you read 
through the program's Help section. 
This application sports so many config- 
urable tools that you won't get nearly 
enough out of Clean Machine until you 
learn how they all work. 

The main interface lists 47 default 
items you can clean. Some have more 
configuring options, and some involve 
riskier areas of disk cleaning, such as in 



I 



over Stc 



Shareware For Windows 



the Registry. You can clean all the 
checked areas at once or just ones that 
you highlight. 

One of these 47 items is called 
Unnecessary Files, and it's a good 
example of how configurable Clean 
Machine is. When you right-click this 
item, you open a window that lists 
more than 100 file types, many of 
them application-specific. You can se- 
lect any or all of these, plus add more. 
Furthermore, you can set Clean Mach- 
ine to find files that are dated within a 
time frame you determine. 

Another great feature is the Plug-ins 
Manager, through which you can access 
more than 150 plug-ins that come with 
the program. You can use these to clean 
application-specific areas of your hard 



Ratines 


Clean Machine 3.0 


Interface: 


lllllll 8.5 


Performance: 


9 


Features: 


9 


Documentation: 


8.5 


OVERALL: 


IIIMIMI 8.5 



drive, such as Adobe Acrobat and 
ZoneAlarm. In addition to the plug-ins, 
Clean Machine includes a tool for cre- 
ating others. 

Clean Machine is the most expensive 
of the applications we looked at, but all 
its configurable features are worth the 
price. It requires Win98 or later and at 
least 5MB free hard drive space. 

Be Choosy 

After you've played around with a 
few file-cleaning programs, you'll know 
if you need one that comes loaded with 
many tools or if a streamlined model 
will do. Regardless of what you pick, be 
careful and be choosy in getting rid of 
your files. All of these programs do a 
good job of leaving alone essential 
items, such as system files. However, 
occasionally you may delete something, 
such as a cookie that stores your login 
information for a Web site, that you 
wish you hadn't, per 

by Rachel Derowitsch 



PC Today / August 2004 53 




Put Your Files On A Diet 

Hard drives are a lot like closets: 
No matter how large manufac- 
turers make them, we'll find a 
way to keep filling them up with digital 
photos, digital music, 3D games, and an 
assortment of other files and programs 
that we absolutely must have. 

There's a limit to how many belongings 
you can stuff into a closet. There's also a 
limit to what you can fit onto a hard drive 
or removable media (such as CDs), but 
with the help of an archiving utility, you 
can squeeze in more files than you might 
expect. A number of shareware archiving 
applications are available. Most of these 
programs offer a wide variety of features 
and options, yet are relatively easy to 
use. Here are a few to consider. 

Archive XP 2004 v11 

30-day trial; $29.99 
Cyberspace Headquarters 
www.cyberspacehq.com 
File size: 4.2MB 

With five different compression appli- 
cations and support for more than 45 
compression and archiving formats, 
Archive XP may seem a little intimidating 
at first glance. But the program integrates 
so well into Windows that, for all prac- 
tical purposes, it is difficult to say where 
Windows ends and Archive XP begins. 

You can create an archive using con- 
text-sensitive pop-up menus that provide 
one-click archiving options, or you can 
use Archive XP's Compression and 
Extraction Wizards to walk you through 



Ratines 


Archive XP 2004 v11 


Interface: 


8 


Performance: 


9 


Features: 


8 


Documentation: 


7 


OVERALL: 


8 



the process. The Archive XP Lite applica- 
tion uses a simple interface that makes it 
easy for beginners to create and edit 
archives. The Archive XP Studio applica- 
tion gives power users access to all avail- 
able compression and archiving options. 

After you create an archive, you can 
use a Windows Explorer or My Com- 
puter window to view or work with 
items in the archive as if it were a typical 
folder on your computer. Just find the 
archive wherever you saved it and open 
it as usual. If you want to add or remove 
files, you can use traditional Windows 
functions, such as drag and drop or copy 
and paste, or you can use the Archive 
XP wizards. 

Archive XP is easy to use, but setting up 
some of the advanced options can be cum- 
bersome. In some cases, you're expected to 
know what an option means (such as set- 
ting the dictionary size) or to understand 
the choices and ramifications (such as se- 
lecting a compression algorithm). 

Configuration information is stored in 
what Archive XP calls Archive Profiles. 
You can create multiple Profiles: One for 
compression settings, one for decom- 
pression settings, one for right-click 
menus, and one for encryption. How- 
ever, there's no easy way to determine 
which Archive Profile is in use at any 
given point. This means you could 
create a password-protected archive 
without realizing it or use settings that 
might not be compatible with other com- 
pression programs. 

BitZipper 4.0 

30-day trial; $24.95 
Bitberry Software 
www.bitzipper.com 
File size: 2.1MB 




BitZipper is a basic archiving tool 
with a lot going for it. It includes a 
wizard-based interface, which walks 
you through the process of com- 
pressing or decompressing archives, 
and an advanced interface called 
BitZipper Classic, which is similar to 
Windows Explorer. 

Integration with Windows is limited 
to entries in right-click, context-sensitive 
pop-up menus that provide access to 
most common archiving functions. 

BitZipper can decompress 18 com- 
pression formats without the use of 
third-party plug-ins or separate com- 
pression engines. It can create archives 
in eight compression formats and seven 
SFX (self-extracting archive) formats. 

BitZipper also includes a backup tool 
(accessible when you start the wizard) 
that is integrated into the application. You 
can configure multiple backup sets, each 
specifying a list of source files to back up, 
a destination for the backup, and the type 
of compression to use during backup. 
This tool is handy for manual backups, 
but BitZipper doesn't include a way to au- 
tomate the backup function. 

If you don't purchase BitZipper, the 
program will continue to function after 
the trial period as a free decompression 
program for ZIP files, the most common 
Windows compression format. 

WinZip 9.0 

21-day trial; $29 
WinZip Computing 
www.winzip.com 
File size: 2.2MB 

WinZip has long been the dominant 
archiving utility for Windows, but it 
shows no sign of resting on its laurels. 



54 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



Cover Story: 



are For Windows 




Version 9 adds support for archives 
larger than 4GB in size. 

WinZip supports three levels of en- 
cryption to ensure private archives re- 
main private: 128 AES (Advanced 
Encryption Standard), 256 AES, and the 
older Zip 2.0, which you can use to 
create archives that are accessible with 
any archiving utility that supports the 
Zip 2.0 encryption format. (And many 
do support it.) 

WinZip has two basic user inter- 
faces, in addition to being integra- 
ted into Windows Explorer and the 
Desktop via context-sensitive pop-up 
menus. (The right-click menus allow 
you to select files or folders you want 
to be zipped into an archive, extract 
existing archives, or create an archive 
and send it via email.) The wizard in- 
terface, of course, walks you through 
the process of creating or extracting 
archives. The Classic interface is where 
most users spend the bulk of their 
time. It displays the files contained in 
an archive, plus a toolbar and menus. 
It also provides access to all WinZip 
features and options, including the 
ability to create SFXs and test archives 



Ratines 


WinZip 9.0 


Interface: 


7 


Performance: 


8 


Features: 


8 


Documentation: 


8 


OVERALL: 


8 



for errors. WinZip supports drag-and- 
drop technology, allowing you to 
quickly and easily drag files or folders 
to an open WinZip window or over the 
WinZip Desktop icon to create an 
archive, add items to an archive, or ex- 
tract an archive. 

With the addition of a separate appli- 
cation called WinZip Command Line 
Support Add-On (available free from 
WinZip Computing if you buy the 
WinZip license), you can access WinZip 



from the command line or create scripts 
to automate WinZip tasks. 

PKZip v8 For Windows 

30-day trial; $29.95 
PKWARE 
www.pkzip.com 
File size: 8.04MB 

Version 8 of PKZip for Windows, re- 
cently released, adds the ability to create 
archives in JAR (JavaARchive), TAR, 
GZIP, Uuencoded, and XXEncoded for- 
mats. It can also create archives in ZIP 
and BZIP2 formats. PKZip can extract 
archives from a large number of formats, 
including MIME (Multipurpose Internet 
Mail Extensions), CAB, HQX (com- 
pressed BinHex), JAR, and TAR. If you 
use PKZip in a business environment, a 
separate administration module is 



RcltJ ngS PKZip v8 For Windows 

Interface: 8 

Performance: 8 

Features: 9 

Documentation: 8 

OVERALL: MINIMI 8.5 



available for locking down PKZip's 
configuration to ensure that the proper 
compression and encryption options are 
always used. 

Other new features include en- 
hanced encryption options that allow 
you to encrypt files that are already 
part of an archive and the ability to en- 
crypt file names, as well as file con- 
tents. This prevents you from viewing 
the file names within an archive until 
you provide the proper password. 



The Classic interface features a 
single window with all of the files in an 
archive listed in a flat file format. The 
Explorer interface is modeled after 
Windows Explorer. Both interfaces pro- 
vide access to all features and options. 

PKZip also adds entries to right- 
click, context-sensitive pop-up menus, 
so you can easily access basic func- 
tions from the Desktop or from 
Windows Explorer. 

The only downside to PKZip is that 
you have to submit your email address 
to download the trial version. In doing 
this, PKWARE is authorized to send 
you "periodic follow up emails," all of 
which you may opt out of by following 
directions in the email. Still, the email 
address, plus the added hassle of 
having to check a verification email for 
the download link, makes the process 
quite tedious at first. 

Test Drive Before You Decide 

Take these programs for a spin and 
compare them against your current 
program (if any) before making a deci- 
sion. You can even download all of 
them and test them against each other: 
Each will uncompress files compressed 
by another application. If you only 
need to work with files that have been 
zipped for downloading from the 
Internet, BitZipper is a good choice. Its 
ZIP decompression utility is free and 
works well. If you want to create 
archives, or work with multiple archive 
types, one of the other applications is a 
better choice, pct 

by Tom Nelson 
and Mary O'Connor 



PC Today / August 2004 55 




Registry 



These Programs Can Safely Clean Your System's Database 



If there's one area of your computer 
that you probably don't work with 
much, it's the Registry — and for good 
reason. The Windows Registry is the data- 
base that contains all the essential informa- 
tion about your operating system and 
software. Tinkering with the Registry 
could cause all sorts of problems if you 
don't know what you're doing. 

That's why it's best for most users to 
rely on the help of Registry cleaners, 
programs that scan the database for 
problems and propose solutions for 
those problems. Here's how we judged 
several of these programs. 

CleanMyPC Registry Cleaner 2.1 7 

15-day trial; $29.95 
CleanMyPC Software 
www.registry-cleaner.net 
File size: 1.09MB 

CleanMyPC couldn't be any easier to 
use. The most important tools and fea- 
tures are accessible from the main inter- 
face under Registry Cleaner. Here you'll 
find the Scan & Clean tool. It lists nine 
areas, such as COM/ActiveX Entries and 
Shared DLLs (dynamic-link library files), 
which the program will check for errors. 
In addition, you'll get a brief description 
of each category. After you run a scan, 
the program lists the number of errors 
found in each category, and you can click 
View Details for a further description. 

We found a handy feature on the View 
Details screen: a RegEdit button. When 
you click this, it opens the Windows 
Registry Editor and automatically takes 









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CleanMyPC offers several ways to deal with 
the problems it finds in your Registry. 





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Before you can run an initial scan in Registry 
Healer, the program will walk you through 
System Restore, a wizard for setting a 
restoration point for your Registry. 

you to the location in the Registry where 
the highlighted problem is located. This 
may prove helpful for users who want to 
learn more about their Registry but don't 
feel comfortable yet manually editing it 
themselves. (However, as always, exer- 
cise much caution when in the Registry.) 

CleanMyPC fixes the problems you've 
selected with the click of a button. With 
the trial version, however, you can fix 
only two problems in each category. 



The Registry Cleaner section contains 
three other key features: Backup & Restore, 
Startup Organizer, and Internet Explorer 
(IE) BHO Organizer. (BHO stands for 
Browser Helper Object.) With Backup & 
Restore, you can create backup files of your 
Registry and then restore one if you need to 
undo changes to your Registry. The Startup 
Organizer lists all the applications that start 
when you launch Windows. This tool lets 
you disable any of your choosing. And the 
BHO Organizer lists all the add-ons for IE. 
Some on this list may be legitimate, such as 
the ones we had from Norton Antivirus 
and Adobe Acrobat. But others may be 
spyware or adware. CleanMyPC desig- 
nates each add-on as safe, unknown, or 
dangerous, depending on the information 
contained in its database. 

CleanMyPC runs on Windows 95 and 
newer and requires 10MB of free hard 
drive space. 



Ratines 


CleanMyPC Software 


Interface: 

Performance: 

Features 

Documentation: 

OVERALL: 




10 
8.5 
8 
lllllllll 9 



Registry Healer 4.2 

30-day trial; $19.95 
KsL Software 
www.fixregistry.com 
File size: 900KB 

The folks who created Registry Healer 
take seriously the need to back up your 



56 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 




o 



over Stc 



Shareware For Windows 



Registry before making changes to it. 
In fact, before you can initially scan your 
Registry for problems, Registry Healer 
will launch System Restore or your 
Backup Wizard, depending on your OS. 

After the restore point is created, 
Registry Healer will continue automati- 
cally with its scan. It hunts for problems 
in eight categories of the Registry, in- 
cluding invalid paths and fonts, obsolete 
Start menu items, and unused software 
entries. If you want to exclude any of 
these categories before you start the 
scan, click Show The Advanced Settings 
Dialog from the Advanced menu. In ad- 
dition to customizing the scan list, you 
can add or exclude paths where Registry 
Healer searches for corrections to any 
problems it finds during a scan. You can 
find this option in the left pane; expand 
the Paths To Search For Connection 
folder for more options. 

To start the Registry scan, click the red 
arrow in the top toolbar of the main 
page. The Advanced Settings window 
will open, where you can select what 
type of things you want the scanner to 
search for. (You can disable this option 
by removing the check mark next to 
Show This Dialog Before The Scan.) Click 
OK to start. Our first scan uncovered al- 
most 300 problems. In phase two of the 
process, Registry Healer hunted for and 
found possible corrections to those prob- 
lems; we were impressed with how 
quickly it conducted this phase. 

With the Registry Healer trial version, 
you can correct only 14 problems with 
each scan. It's easy to select or deselect 
which entries you want to correct. For 
each problem, Registry Healer lists the 
best possible solution, whether that's 
deleting the invalid entry or fixing the 
problem with the suggested correction. 
Before you make corrections, you can save 
and print a list of the scan results, and you 
can open the Registry from within 
Registry Healer to view the problem area. 

Registry Healer comes with an Easy 
Mode and Expert Mode, but there's not 



much "%v 
difference 
between the 
two. To use 
program, you'll need 
at least Win95 and 1MB 
free hard drive space. 



Ratines 


RegistryHealer 4.2 


Interface: 


mini 8.5 


Performance: 


9 


Features: 


9 


Documentation: 


9.5 


OVERALL: 


MINIMI 9 



Registry Mechanic 2.1 

Unlimited trial, partial version; $19.95 
WinGuides Software 
www.winguides.com 
File size: 2.35MB 

Like a good auto mechanic who fixes 
what his customers couldn't begin to fix, 
Registry Mechanic is ideal for users who 
have no desire to mess with their Registry. 

The section tree on the main interface 
lists 12 areas in the My Computer folder 
that Registry Mechanic will scan for errors. 
The sections include Software Locations, 
Device Drivers, Startup Programs, Virtual 



^ 



You can configure Registry Mechanic to 
perform a scan of your Registry when you 
start your system. 



Devices, and Add/Remove Programs, and 
you can tweak this list by selecting and de- 
selecting the sections. 

When you complete the scan, Registry 
Mechanic displays a new screen with a list 
of sections in which errors were found. 
Click a section, and you'll see the part of 
the Registry containing the problem and 
the correction Registry Mechanic suggests. 

With the trial version, you're limited 
to viewing and correcting problems 
found in just the first six areas of the sec- 
tion tree. To fix a problem, select the area 
and click the Repair button. The program 
will prompt you to save a backup copy 
of your Registry before repairs are at- 
tempted. You'll be able to access all 
backup copies under the program's 
Backup button on the main interface. 

Registry Mechanic offers a few options 
in its main scan-and-fix tool. For instance, 
you can have the program perform an 
automated scan whenever you start 
Windows, and you can automatically re- 
pair all found errors or just the ones you 
choose. To access these options, click the 
Settings button next to Configuration on 
the main Registry Mechanic screen. 

You'll need at least Win95 and 
5MB of free hard drive space to use 
Registry Mechanic. 



Ratines 


Interface: 

Performance: 

Features 

Documentation: 

OVERALL: 


lllllll 

MIIIIMI 

MIMIIII 

lllllll 

llllllll 


7 

8.5 

9 

7 

8 



Smooth Running 

No matter how you use your com- 
puter, make cleaning your Registry a 
regular part of your system mainte- 
nance. It's particularly important for 
anyone who installs and removes a lot of 
applications, which does as much as 
anything to clog up your Registry. With 
one of these programs installed and 
used regularly, your system will run 
more smoothly, pct 

by Rachel Derowitsch 



PC Today / August 2004 57 




Shareware Email Programs Expand Your Range Of Options 



For millions of PC users, Win- 
dows' free email client, Outlook 
Express, is a suitable solution for 
sending and retrieving email. Outlook 
Express is easy to use, and it provides 
an interface that many computer users 
have become familiar with over the 
years. In recent releases, Microsoft has 
also increased Outlook Express' feature 
set and enhanced its security as com- 
pared to earlier incarnations. 

Nevertheless, you may be pining 
for options, such as fanciful emoticons, 
better security, or an easy way to 
check Web-based email accounts, all of 
which are not standard features of 
Outlook Express. You can use third- 
party add-ons, or you can upgrade 
your email client to one that perfectly 
suits your needs. There are several 
excellent email clients out there, each 
of which has strengths in certain areas. 
Eudora is probably the best-known, 
but at a cost of $49.95, it is also the 
most expensive. 

Know Your Options 

Fortunately, you don't have to spend 
$50 to upgrade your email capabilities. 
By choosing one of the lesser-known 
email clients we review in this article, you 
can reduce your outlay to less than $30 — 
or nothing at all if you don't mind a few 
ads or promotional pitches. 

Boda Foxmail 5 

Freeware 
Boda 

fox.foxmail.com.cn/english.htm 
File size: 3.8MB 



Because Foxmail is free, it is not tech- 
nically shareware, but its value is such 
that we had to include it. As a free 
product, support is nonexistent, but 
with more than 8 million satisfied users 
worldwide and dozens of good reviews, 
we are confident recommending it. 

Foxmail has a pleasant, easy-to-com- 
prehend interface and sports a variety of 
features. Foxmail lets you leave retrieved 
email messages on the server (on a per 
account basis), a mighty handy option 
when you want to check your work email 
on the road or at home and still have 
those messages waiting for you at work 
the next day. 



Ratines 


Boda Foxmail 5 


Interface: 


MINIM 9 


Performance: 


10 


Features: 


10 


Documentation: 


7 


OVERALL: 


IMIIMM 9 



It also lets you set up different mes- 
sage-retrieval schedules for each account 
and create custom, multilevel email rules 
that you can apply globally or on a mes- 
sage-by-message basis. You can even 
create rules that automatically delete mail 
directly from the server.) The program 
supports multiple email servers for a 
single account, a feature we did not find 
elsewhere. It also supports MSN Hotmail 
(www.hotmail.com) accounts, so you 
can download your Hotmail messages 
straight to your Foxmail account. 

Foxmail also offers robust security fea- 
tures. You can check, retrieve, and delete 



email at the server level, and you can 
password protect your accounts. You can 
toggle between HTML and plain-text 
views of your email (by clicking the mag- 
nifying glass icon in the top right of the 
preview pane). For handling junk mail, 
Foxmail offers three types of filtering: 
custom (user-created) rule; Bayes 
method (which "learns" how to identify 
spam based on words in the email mes- 
sages you accept or reject); and list-based 
(White List and Black List), which lets 
you identify senders to accept or reject. 

Foxmail comes with a variety of email 
templates containing backgrounds, built- 
in salutations, and more, or you can 
choose to create your own templates. The 
program can also import your contacts 
from a variety of sources. Unfortunately, 
Foxmail can import messages only from 
Outlook-native or text files. Consequently, 
users of other email clients will need to ex- 
port their messages to text format before 
they can import them. 

IncrediMail Xe 

No trial period; $29.95 to upgrade to Premium 

IncrediMail 

www.incredimail.com 

File size: 6MB 

With this program you can add 
emoticons, animated GIF (Graphics 
Interchange Format) graphics, sounds, 
handwritten signatures, and more 
to your email messages. If the default 
options do not offer enough variety, 
IncrediMail's online gallery provides 
a rich assortment of graphics and spe- 
cial effects. 



58 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 





I 



over Stc 



Shareware For Windows 



IncrediMail 
is also quite user- 
friendly, borrowing 
much of the Outlook Express 
interface. It can create your email 
accounts automatically by harvesting 
information from your old email pro- 
grams, making account setup a breeze. It 
can also import your existing Outlook 
Express or Eudora contacts or messages. 
As a bonus, IncrediMail supports AOL 



Ratines 


IncrediMail Xe 


Interface: 


8 


Performance: 


7 


Features: 


9 


Documentation: 


8 


OVERALL: 


8 



accounts, although it cannot import 
AOL contacts. 

When mail arrives, the IncrediMail 
notifier of your choice will alert you. You 
can also opt to have your email messages 
delivered in 3D; the message can fly into 
the window from above or from the side, 
for example. We found this feature to be 
annoying rather than fun. 

IncrediMail is not without account se- 
curity and management features. You can 
block senders, bounce (return as undeliv- 
erable) messages, create basic message 
rules, and instruct the program not to exe- 
cute scripts or show external images. You 
can also instruct IncrediMail, on a per-ac- 
count basis, to leave retrieved messages 
on the server. 

IncrediMail Xe is free; small ads will 
appear in the upper right of your display, 
and you will find a few links to Web sites 
(notably IncrediDate, IncrediMail's online 
dating service) on your Desktop. If you 
upgrade to IncrediMail Premium, you'll 
rid yourself of the ads and gain a few 
extra features. One of these is the ability to 
bounce, delete, or open email messages 
directly on your server, an important fea- 
ture if security is a concern. (With the 
basic version, you can view email headers 



on the server but you cannot process 
them in any way.) 

Rose City Software Courier 3.5 

30-day free trial; $29.95 to purchase 
Rose City Software (Infinisource) 
support@infinisource.com 
www.rosecitysoftware.com 
File size: 4MB 

If you want security and stout account 
management features and don't need 
built-in animations, emoticons, or other 
frippery, Courier is for you. During setup 
you can decide whether to accept HTML 
email messages and whether or not any 
scripts can run within them. (Malicious 
scripts inside HTML emails are a little- 
recognized but prevalent source of infec- 
tion.) You can also decide how Courier 
will handle attachments, including 
whether to save them to your hard drive 
automatically. Should any nasty worms 
make it through, they won't be able to use 
you as their launch pad because Courier 
encrypts your Address Book to protect it 
against unauthorized usage. 

Furthermore, during operation you can 
design an array of filters that determine 
where messages go, and you can use 
Courier's JunkYard Filter feature to give 
you powerful filtering control over spam. 

Courier's account security and man- 
agement features are equally powerful. 
During setup, you can password protect 
each mailbox. You can then lock the 
mailbox when you leave your computer. 
Courier will continue to check the account 
for email, but users without the password 
will not be able to read or send email from 
that account. 

Additionally, you can create an icon on 
your Desktop for each email account 



(handy if you have kids or people who 
are not email savvy), and you can set up 
different email-checking intervals for each 
account. You can also instruct Courier, on 
a per-account basis, to remove retrieved 
email messages from the server or leave 
them there. 

Other helpful Courier features include 
a means to archive email messages with a 
single mouse click, the ability to create 
and edit an Auto-Response message with 
ease, the option to have Courier create an 
email backup on exit, and the ability to 
import messages and contacts from a va- 
riety of mail clients (including Outlook 
Express). One aspect of Courier we found 



Ratings 



Rose City Software 
Courier 3.5 



Interface: 8 

Performance: 1 

Features: 10 

Documentation: 8 

OVERALL: lllllllll 9 



cumbersome was that it opens on a 
per-mailbox basis. If you have multiple 
mailboxes, you must open each one in- 
dividually and then toggle between dif- 
ferent windows to manage them. 

Communication Central 

Of the programs we reviewed, Courier 
and Foxmail are on par; Courier offers 
more account management options, but 
Foxmail leads the pack on spam filtering 
and server integration. IncrediMail lags 
slightly behind in both areas, but its appeal 
to multimedia enthusiasts is undeniable. 
The key to choosing one is deciding which 
feature set is most appealing. We also eval- 
uated several other email clients, notably 
WikMail (www.wikmail.com), The Bat 
(www.ritlabs.com), and the freeware 
program Pegasus Mail (www.pmail 
.com). The first two we eliminated based 
on program shortcomings. The third, how- 
ever, we avoided because of its optimiza- 
tion for a networked or mail server 
environment (which makes its interface 
confusing). If you are an advanced user, es- 
pecially one with a network, you may also 
want to give Pegasus Mail a trial run. per 

by Jennifer Farwell 



PC Today / August 2004 59 



Browser 



Managers 



Cover Your Tracks & Protect Your Privacy 



If you think you're anonymous when 
you're surfing the Internet, you're in 
for a rude surprise. Your computer 
and Web browser maintain a detailed his- 
tory of your browsing habits. 

If you want to protect your privacy at 
home or at work, consider third-party 
browser and Windows security utilities, 
such as the ones described below. With 
one of these tools installed, you can rest 
assured that your private files have been 
put through the digital equivalent of a 
crosscut paper shredder. 

WinSettings 7.0 

20-day trial; $49.95 
FileStream 
www.filestream.com 
File size: 1.3MB 

WinSettings 7.0 operates as a System 
Tray utility, providing easy access to its 
many functions at all times. The heart of 
WinSettings is its ability to clean up and 
remove stored data that could compro- 
mise your privacy. Your Web browsing 
habits are top priority. You can configure 
WinSettings to clear out your History 
folder, remove URLs of sites you've 
visited, delete cookies, and dump your 
Internet cache files. WinSettings can 
also clear AutoComplete forms, Auto- 
Complete passwords, Run history, Find 
Files (Search) history, and Find Com- 
puters history. It includes a pop-up 
blocker to prevent pop-up windows from 
intruding while you're browsing the Web. 
WinSettings can remove all personal 
data via menu selections available from 



Ratines 


WinSettings 7.0 


Interface: 


8 


Performance: 


7 


Features: 


8 


Documentation: 


8 


OVERALL: 


8 



its System Tray icon. You can also con- 
figure WinSettings to remove personal 
data on a preset schedule, such as at 
startup, at shutdown, or hourly. 

WinSettings is very good at eliminating 
browser data, but it's a bit of an over- 
achiever. There is no simple way to selec- 
tively prevent cookies and URLs from 
being removed. This can get in the way of 
easy access to sites you visit frequently. 

WinSettings moonlights as a general- 
purpose utility for accessing and ad- 
justing many Windows settings, such as 
file associations and wallpaper and 
screen saver selections. It also includes a 
screen capture utility. 

Window Washer 5.5 

30-day trial; $39.95 
Webroot Software 
www.webroot.com 
File size: 2.5MB 

Window Washer is another System 
Tray utility. You can double-click its 
icon to access Window Washer's config- 
uration interface or right-click the icon 
to access specific functions (such as per- 
forming a wash) from a pop-up menu. 
Considering how comprehensive its 
Internet and Windows system cleaning 



process is, Window Washer provides a 
remarkably easy-to-use interface. 

Window Washer's main job is to re- 
move personal data that's collected during 
routine use of your computer or browser. 
It supports Internet Explorer, Netscape, 
and AOL. It can also detect many common 
browser plug-ins and ensure they're sub- 
jected to the cleanup process. 

Window Washer can clean up or re- 
move your browser's history, cache files, 
AutoComplete forms, cookies, Index.dat 
files, temporary Internet files, and 
Download folder memory. You can con- 
figure the items you want to remove, as 
well as set exceptions, such as retaining 
cookies for sites you visit often. You can 
also set up a schedule for performing a 
wash at specific times, such as at startup 
or shutdown, at browser shutdown, or 
hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly. 

Simply deleting browser and Win- 
dows files isn't enough to ensure secu- 
rity. You must overwrite the files, and 
the space they occupy on your hard 
drive, with new data to ensure you 
can't recover the information. Window 
Washer calls this process adding bleach 
to the wash. You can specify the para- 
meters for a Bleach Cycle, including the 





Ratines 


Window Washer 5.5 




Interface: 


8 




Performance: 


9 




Features: 


8 




Documentation: 


8 




OVERALL: 


8 



60 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



iS 




c, 



over Stc 



Shareware For Windows 



type of data that you'll use to overwrite 
the original data and the number of 
times or passes to overwrite the data. 

You can also select specific security 
methods sanctioned by various agencies 
for cleaning hard drives, including DoD 
(Department Of Defense) 5220. 22M, 
NSA (National Security Agency), or the 
Gutmann 35-pass algorithm, a method 
developed by Peter Gutmann from the 
Department Of Computer Science at the 
University Of Auckland in New Zealand. 

Anti Tracks 3.05 

15-day trial; $29.95 
Right Utilities 
www.rightutilities.com 
File size: 2.4MB 



Ratines 


Anti Tracks 3.05 


Interface: 


7 


Performance: 


8 


Features: 


8 


Documentation: 


8 


OVERALL: 


8 



Sporting a user interface that looks 
remarkably like a Windows XP 
Desktop window, Anti Tracks makes it 
easy to cover your trail. It can remove 
the most important information col- 
lected while browsing, including 
Address bar history (Location bar in 
Netscape Navigator), cookies, cache 
files, History links, Index.dat files, 
search histories, and AutoComplete 
data. Erasing browser information isn't 
an all-or-nothing proposition. You can 
exclude cookies or URLs for your fa- 
vorite Web sites. In addition to sup- 
porting Internet Explorer, Netscape, 
AOL, MSN, and Opera, Anti Tracks 



can clean up data from most common 
browser plug-ins. 

Anti Tracks also looks after your 
Windows environment and can clean 
out your Recent Document history, 
Windows Temp files, Run history, 
Search Files history, Search Computers 
history, login history, network cache, 
Telnet history, Windows Registry 
streams and fragments, swap files, and 
more. It also supports Outlook Express 
mail and news file cleanup. 

You can select DoD 5220. 22-M, 
Gutmann, or NSA file-shredding stan- 
dards to ensure that folks can't recover 
the data. You can also use a custom se- 
cure erase process that lets you select the 
number of times to overwrite a file and 
the type of data to use. You can clean up 
data manually, at preset intervals, or at 
startup or shutdown. 

CyberScrub Professional Edition 3.5 

15-day trial; $49.95 
CyberScrub 
www.cyberscrub.com 
File size: 3.1MB 

CyberScrub Pro has a long list of fea- 
tures that make it an effective tool for se- 
curely erasing privacy-related data, but 
its user interface is a hodgepodge of 
wizards, windows, and tabbed lists and 
is not intuitive or beginner-friendly. 

CyberScrub can erase data via a 
number of user-selected methods. You 
can also choose progressively higher se- 
curity levels, including NAVSO (Navy 



Ratings 



CyberScrub Professional 
Fdition 3.S 



Interface: 6 

Performance: 6 

Features: 9 

Documentation: 7 

OVERALL: 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 7 



Staff Office Publication) P-5239-26, DoD 
5220. 22-M, the Gutmann 35-pass algo- 
rithm, and B. Schneier's 7-pass algo- 
rithm, invented by internationally 
recognized security expert and Coun- 
terpane Chief Technology Officer Bruce 
Schneier. You can add new erasure 
methods or edit existing ones to meet 
your needs. 

A wizard interface lets you select 
Windows and browser data you want 
to remove and specify cookies you 
don't. CyberScrub can clean up IE, 
AOL, Netscape, Opera, and MSN, re- 
moving AutoComplete history, cache 
files, Address bar (Location bar in 
Netscape Navigator) history, URL his- 
tory, and Favorite lists. CyberScrub can 
also remove or clear Windows data, 
including application logs, clipboard 
data, dialog history, Index.dat files, 
search/find history, Windows Media 
Player history, Recent Document his- 
tory, Recycle Bin contents, Run history, 
and swap files, as well as any addi- 
tional files you specify. It can clean up 
after 16 popular peer-to-peer applica- 
tions and most messaging clients. 

CyberScrub offers some of the best 
available secure erase capabilities, but 
most of its functions are strictly 
manual. It has no scheduling capability 
and no ability to automatically perform 
a cleanup after an event, such as 
startup or shutdown. 

Use It Or You Won't Lose It 

The browser security managers in our 
roundup do a good job of keeping data 
confidential. All are capable of using se- 
cure erase procedures that meet or ex- 
ceed many government standards, with 
CyberScrub providing the highest level 
of security. But data security programs 
are a lot like backup programs: They 
only work if you use them. If you don't 
think you'll remember to routinely 
perform a cleanup on a manual basis, 
choose a program that lets you schedule 
cleanups or perform them automatically 
when you exit your browser or shut 
down Windows, rer 

by Tom Nelson and Mary 
O'Connor 



PC Today / August 2004 61 



Protect 



We all do it: use the same pass- 
word for several (or all) of our 
logins. We know it's wrong 
and even dangerous, but the thought of 
keeping track of every password for every 
Web site and every application is just too 
much to bear. However, there is plenty of 
help available in the form of password 
manager programs. Here we'll outline a 
few of them. See the comparison chart in 
the sidebar for a quick overview of the 
main features of each program. 

Tray Safe v2.0 

21-day trial; $19.95 to $24.95 
F-Croup 

www.fgroupsoft.com/Traysafe/Download.ritml 
File size: 763KB 

Tray Safe has several templates ready to 
accept password and logon information 
for your applications and online accounts. 
It also allows you to create templates to 
store exactly the information you want for 



Yourself 



Password 

Proliferation 

Protection 

Pays 




Tray Safe can accommodate nearly any kind 
of sensitive information because of its 
flexible data setup tools. 

a particular purpose, such as for credit 
card information. For people who need to 
create lots of online accounts, Tray Safe not 
only will create a secure password, but it 
will also generate a random username. 

To start an application or access a Web 
site, click its entry in Tray Safe's list. You 
can type the username and password by 
simply clicking inside the respective 



Feature Comparison Chart 



Although you'll probably never find the perfect password manager, you should 
test several to see which most closely meets your needs. All of these have a 
generous trial period, so you can expose them to as many scenarios as you can 
think of. Here is a brief comparison of all the applications we've reviewed. 



Online account login 
Local program login 
URL or program start 
Modifiable autofill macro 
Autofill 

Password generator 
Data file encryption 
Revision tracking & history 



Tray 
Safe 
v2.0 


Password 
Manager 
XP 


My 

Password 

Manager 


Secure 

Password 

Manager 


yes 


yes 


yes 


yes 


yes 


no 


no 


no 


yes 


yes 


yes 


yes 


yes 


no 


no 


no 


no 


no 


no 


no 


yes 


yes 


yes 


yes 


yes 


yes 


yes 


yes 


no 


yes 


yes 


yes 




Ratines 


Tray Safe v2.0 


Interface: 


8 


Performance: 


9 


Features: 


9 


Documentation: 


7 


OVERALL: 


8 



boxes. This is not a fully automated 
login, but it is still very simple and con- 
venient. Tray Safe can handle a wide va- 
riety of information and store it securely. 

Password Manager XP 

30- day trial; $24.95 
CP-Lab.com 

www.cp-lab.com/download.html 
File size: 331 KB 

Password Manager XP integrates with 
Microsoft Internet Explorer by attaching 
a pop-up window that makes your pass- 
word list available for logging in to Web 
sites. You need to fill in the username, 
but right-clicking the password field 
opens a menu that lets you auto-create a 
new password, save a password you've 
already entered, or paste the password 



i-|-',« •t-i&if.rv vjjjij'L-fJja-. 






General Encryption 




The folowing encryption algorithm 
database; 


.■■ i .■ ■ ■..;■■. '■■ :.: ■:::■ .■■...■■■ .'■■.: 




0£l II hi 


0Ca$t12S 




03DES 


0RC4 




EjRijndael 


W\ Serpenl 




0Tea 


Two-fish 




[ OK | [ Cance, ' 





Password Manager XP can encrypt 
your data file using several types of 
encryption technology to keep your 
password information safe. 



62 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 




c, 



over Stc 



Shareware For Windows 



RatingS Password Manager XP 



Interface: 7 

Performance: 7 

Features: 7 

Documentation: 8 

OVERALL: 7 



from your password file. The ability to 
conveniently generate and save pass- 
words is a big help if you visit lots of sites 
that require you to create an account and 
you don't want to use the same password 
for multiple sites. The password program 
also allows you to get to your passwords 
when you use different machines con- 
nected to the same network. 

My Password Manager 

30-day trial; $19.95 
Animabilis Software 
www.mypasswordmanager.com/index.htm 
File size: 600KB 



Ratines 


My Password Manager 


Interface: 


iiiiii 


6 


Performance: 


MINI 


6 


Features: 


MM 


4 


Documentation 


: 


8 


OVERALL: 


IIIIII 


6 



My Password Manager is everything 
its title claims: a password manager. It 
has an adequate password generator, 
and you can safely store your login in- 
formation in encrypted files. It's also 
possible to launch the Web page or 
local program associated with the pass- 
word. But because there is no autofill 
macro, you will need to manually copy 
or paste your username and password 
into the site's login screen. The program 
does a good job at its functions, but to 
be really useful, it should include an 
autofill function. 



Secure "^k^" * 

Password Manager 

35-day trial; $18.95 
SecureKit.com 
www.securekit.com/index.htm 
File size: 1.3MB 

Secure Password Manager has the best 
user interface of the programs reviewed 
here. It has a simple design and interface, 
making it easy to use. There's plenty 
of flexibility in setting up multiple 



' 


I - X 


V 


ffi M IP & 


f '"') 


f leo i 


f i ®' 


4> 


3H ,,,„. r „," 

» H,d a Info 

» saw; f-ibw 






■*»•—■ 


f. AutoFill 3 5s 


... „,,.„,. . ? 


pommerts as 


i»,.Jt*""' ,| 


— *-— \i 









Secure Password Manager allows multiple 
users to store their own information securely. 



KcltinSS Secure Password Manager 


Interface: 

Performance: 

Features: 

Documentation: 

OVERALL: 


llllllll 

MIMIIII 

llllllll 

IIIIII 

llllllll 


8 
9 
8 
6 
8 



password files, and the program sup- 
ports multiple users, which makes it 
great to use on shared computers. It's 
easy to modify the auto-complete macro, 
which makes the program very flexible, 
and you can apply a password sequence 
to nearly any online or local application. 
However, you can't start a program by 
clicking its password file, as you can with 
many other password managers. With 
Secure Password Manager, you start your 
Web site or program and press the plus 
sign (+) on your keyboard. When your 
password list is shown, select the one you 



want to use and click Autofill to apply 
your username and password. 

Advanced Password Manager 

30-day trial; $24.95 
Rays Lab 
www.rayslab.com 
File size: 1.08MB 

Advanced Password Manager allows 
you to create multiple password files 
and password protect them. You can 
use the program to store login informa- 
tion for your online accounts, bank 
account numbers, and credit card infor- 
mation. This is true, and it may be 
a safe place to house that kind of infor- 
mation, but rather than have special- 
ized templates for each kind of 



Ixcltl jlSS Advanced Password Manager 

Interface: 6 

Performance: 6 

Features: 5 

Documentation: 5 

OVERALL: IIIIII 5.5 



information, you end up putting infor- 
mation in fields of the Internet tem- 
plate. Once you have your username 
and passwords set up, clicking Ad- 
vanced Password Manager's icon in the 
System Tray displays them so you can 
select which set to use to automatically 
fill in the login information. It's quick 
and simple, but the program is not as 
flexible as some in this roundup. 

■ Safety First 

It's often hard enough to come up 
with a crack-proof password (with all 
sorts of characters), let alone re- 
member it. And with so many pass- 
word-protected applications online 
and on your PC, it really is best to 
create different passwords for each. 
Rather than write each one down or 
try to remember them, invest a little in 
a password and information manager 
to prevent a potential disaster and pro- 
mote safe computing, rcr 

by Scott Koegler 



PC Today / August 2004 63 



r 



~ Cover Story: 




Customize 




Creative Screen Savers Leave A Lasting Impression 



Years ago, screen savers were a 
must to prevent stagnant images 
from burning into monitors. 
Technological improvements have less- 
ened the likelihood of this happening, but 
by now most computer users habitually 
use screen savers anyway. In fact, they're 
one of the easiest and least-expensive 
ways to make a personal statement 
through your PC. 

You can settle for the screen savers that 
come with your version of Windows. Or 
you can download and test a host of 
shareware screen savers from the Web, 
starting with the ones we found here. 

American Pictures 1.0 

Unlimited trial, partial version; $15.95 

Altix Soft 

info@altixsoft.com 

www.altixsoft.com 

File size: 4.88MB 



Ratines 


American Pictures 1.0 


Interface: 


6 


Performance: 


9.5 


Features: 


7 


Documentation: 


7.5 


OVERALL: 


7.5 



Does your mind wander off to places 
and cities where you'd rather be? The 
makers of American Pictures know the 
answer is likely "Yes". So when you want 
to hit the road to see this great country 
but can't, this screen saver can give you 
snapshots of America's varied beauty. 

The concept is excellent, but the execu- 
tion suffers in places. To be fair, the trial 



version of this slideshow screen saver 
shows only 10 of the 33 images in the re- 
tail version. Accompanying these photos 
are a few soundtracks, including music 
from "Men In Black" and "Pulp Fiction." 
Not the patriotic fare we expected, but at 
least the music is one of several features 
you can tweak if necessary. 

We like the special effects that transi- 
tion from one photo to the next. Plus, you 
can display all the photos in black-and- 
white for a classic look. You can also set 
your favorite image from the slideshow as 
your wallpaper with a double-click of 
your mouse. 

American Pictures is a new program 
from Altix Soft, still in its first version. We 
expect future versions will improve, espe- 
cially with crisper photos. And based on 
what we've seen in other screen savers 
from Altix (check out Autumn Blues, for 
example), we know the company is ca- 
pable of that. To use American Pictures, 
you'll need Windows 95 or newer. 

Aquatica 3D 2.0 

Unlimited trial, partial version; $29.99 
Primetime Multimedia 
info@clubaquatica.com 
www.clubaquatica.com 
File size: 5.9MB 

Be prepared for a drop in your produc- 
tivity if Aquatica 3D is your next screen 
saver. It is so well stocked with customiz- 
able features that you might have trouble 
taking your eyes and ears off this mes- 
merizing screen saver. 

The trial version of Aquatica 3D 
doesn't do the program justice because 



the retail version comes with thousands of 
features you can't access if you're just 
trying it out. However, at the Web site 
you can view almost 10,500 items in the 
object library, which paying customers 
can download and integrate into their 
water scenes. In addition, those who pur- 
chase Aquatica 3D receive at no cost 
Aquatica Scenery Maker, a program that 
provides more premade settings plus 
items to help you create your own scenes. 



Ratines 


Aquatica 3D 2.0 


Interface: 


llllllllll 9.5 


Performance: 


6 


Features: 


9.5 


Documentation: 


6 


OVERALL: 


MINIMI 75 



The Settings interface in Aquatica 3D 
gives you a command center from which 
you can access all the tools and features. 
You also can select sounds and control the 
volume level of the program, plus import 
music files to play when Aquatica 3D 
launches. Perhaps the most unique fea- 
ture is Internet Messaging: If you create a 
message channel for other Aquatica 3D 
customers, you can send them messages 
that will appear on their screen saver. 

Eye-catching as it is, Aquatica 3D is 
definitely a try-before-you-buy program. 
We didn't find it 100% reliable, but given 
how stripped-down the trial version is, 
that might explain its somewhat faulty 
performance for us. Right now, Aquatica 
3D is available for just Windows 
2000/XP users. 

Art-Impressionism 1 .1 

7-day trial; $19.95 
Always Great Software 
i nfo@alwaysgreat.com 
www.alwaysgreat.com 
File size: 4.8MB 

Bring a little class to your Desktop with 
the works from some of the greatest 
Impressionistic artists. Here you can stroll 
through a museum-quality collection of 



64 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 




c, 



over Stc 



Shareware For Windows 



KStingS Art-Impressionism 1.1 

Interface: 9.5 

Performance: 10 

Features: 8 

Documentation: 9 

OVERALL: MINIMI 9 



paintings from renowned artists such as 
Monet, Renoir, Cassatt, Degas, Cezanne, 
and Seurat. In all, the Art-Impressionism 
screen saver contains 57 prints, including 
Monet's "Water Lilies," Renoir's "Dance at 
Le Moulin de la Galette," and Cezanne's 
"Houses in Provence." 

You can change a few aspects about the 
screen saver. For instance, you can en- 
large the images to fit the screen. You also 
can modify the font, font size, and place- 
ment of the captions detailing the artist's 
name, painting title, and date, plus 
change the transitions between images. 

If Always Great Software releases an- 
other version of Art-Impressionism in the 
future, the only improvements it could 
make would be to add a classical music 
soundtrack and a wallpaper feature. 

Always Great Software delivers what it 
promises for Win95 and newer users and 
at reasonable prices. 

Mandala3D1.3 

9-day trial; S 14.95 
7art-screensavers 
info@7art-screensavers.com 
www.7art-screensavers.com 
File size: 1.25MB 

7art-screensavers offers a wide range of 
screen savers, so it was difficult to choose 
one to preview. But Mandala 3D caught 
our eye because it's somewhat reminis- 
cent of the Flying Objects type of screen 



savers that come with Windows. This, 
however, is much more robust. 

You can't add to or create anything 
new to integrate into this 3D screen saver, 
but its Settings dialog box does give you 
control over numerous fine points of the 
graphics. For instance, you can choose 
from among five rotating figures — cone, 
cube, cylinder, pyramid, and sphere — and 
adjust colors, rotating speeds, and surface 
types. In addition, you can make the fig- 
ures translucent and turn on a morphing 
feature. The default setting puts many of 



Ratines 


Mandala 3D 1.3 


Interface: 


8 


Performance: 


9 


Features: 


7 


Documentation: 


7 


OVERALL: 


7.5 



the features in a random mode, which 
was one of our favorite settings. 

You may not buy into the philosophy 
behind the Ambient Light portion, but the 
quirky notions on which the program was 
written don't detract from this vivid, cap- 
tivating screen saver. Mandala 3D runs 
on Win95 and up. 

ABF Slide Show Screen Saver 1.1 

30-day trial; $14.95 
ABF-SOFT.COM 
info@abf-soft.com 
www.abfsoft.com 
File size: 891 KB 

After shopping around for good 
screen savers, you may come to the con- 
clusion that you'd just as soon make 
your own, especially if you want to 
create a slideshow. 



If that's the case, you're in luck. ABF 
Slide Show Screen Saver is a super 
program that makes creating your own 
screen saver a snap. ABF integrates 
right into Windows. After installation, 



Ratings 



ABF Slide Show 
Screen Saver 1.1 



Interface: 8 

Performance: 9.5 

Features: 7.5 

Documentation: 9 

OVERALL: MIIIIMI 8.5 



right-click your Desktop, choose Proper- 
ties, and click the Screen Saver tab in the 
Display Properties dialog box. Select ABF 
from the drop-down menu, click Settings, 
and the program's simple interface opens. 

Most of the work in creating your own 
slideshow screen saver occurs as you 
gather all the image files you want to in- 
clude into one or two folders. Once 
you've done that, just choose a few fea- 
tures from the ABF Slide Show Screen 
Saver Setup dialog box: choose your back- 
ground from the Background Color drop- 
down menu; the time between images 
from the Interval (Seconds) drop-down 
menu; and transition effects from Slide 
Show Effect drop-down menu. ABF offers 
a generous selection of effects, so select 
Random to take advantage of all of them. 

ABF works on Windows 98 and newer 
systems. It lacks tools for adding sound 
effects or a soundtrack, but otherwise, it's 
a nifty program. 

Happy Hunting 

Our brief reviews can't begin to encom- 
pass the broad range of screen savers 
available online. There are numerous reli- 
able shareware Web sites out there (such 
as CNET's Download.com), and many 
product sites feature links to download 
trial versions of their software; browse 
through search results to find more. 
However, as with any download, make 
sure the site is reliable and trustworthy 
before you click that hyperlink. Enjoy the 
ones that we've found for you and cus- 
tomize your PC to express your individu- 
ality and showcase your personality, per 

by Rachel Derowitsch 



PC Today / August 2004 65 



V5 



Cover Story: 




Time Is 



Beef Up Your System Clock 



Your time is important, so don't 
settle for the basic Windows 
clock in your System Tray. There 
is a plethora of shareware clock utilities 
that augment your system clock with 
useful time-management tools. 

Do You Have The Time? 

The products we reviewed include 
clock, alarm, and stopwatch functions. It's 
the add-on features that set them apart. 
For example, some clock utilities display 
the time in multiple time zones, and 
others offer advanced time-tracking fea- 
tures. Try these products based on the 
features that are meaningful to you. 

12Ghosts 12-ShowTime 

30-day trial; $29.95 to purchase 
12Ghosts Software 
(888)238-3153 
www.12ghosts.com 
File size: 3210KB 

One of more than 30 different utilities 
available in the 12Ghosts SuperGee 
PowerTools suite, the 12-ShowTime clock 
utility automatically replaces the clock in 



RcltingS 12Ghosts12-ShowTime 


Interface: 
General usability: 
Feature set 
Documentation: 
OVERALL: 


MINIM 

MIMI 

llllllll 

MIMI 

lllllll 


8 
6 
8 
6 
7 



your System Tray. The 12-ShowTime 
clock offers more information than the 
standard Windows clock and can include 



the day, date, and current time in a variety 
of formats. 

In addition to the System Tray clock, 
you can configure a separate clock win- 
dow. The clock window offers an optional 
picture of the moon and its current phase. 
You can choose to activate the System 
Tray clock, the clock window, or both. 

Standard features include an alarm, a 
chime that sounds at specific time inter- 
vals, and a stopwatch with lap and 
countdown timer capabilities. A World 
Times window displays the time in 12 
preconfigured locations. To simplify 
customizing its contents, 12-ShowTime 
incorporates a list of well-known cities 
and corresponding time zones. 

Most of the features in 12-ShowTime 
are easy to use and intuitive, with useful 
information provided on the program's 
screens and in the Help file. The pro- 
gram's online help is a brief Web page 
that contains information for getting you 
started using 12-ShowTime and the other 
utilities in the suite. 

Spring Creek Software Virtual 
Stopwatch 3.0 

14-day trial; $15 to purchase 
Spring Creek Software 
sales@springcreeksoftware.com 
www.springcreeksoftware.com 
File size; 1300KB 

Virtual Stopwatch is a clock utility that 
features a powerful logging tool that lets 
you track the amount of time you spend 
on projects and tasks. What's more, you 
can add billing rates, print customizable 
log reports, and export log data. 



Ratines 


Spring Creek Software 
Virtual Stopwatch 3.0 


Interface: 
General usability. 
Feature set 
Documentation: 
OVERALL: 


Mill 
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The program also can display a clock, a 
stopwatch, or a countdown timer. You 
can add buttons to log in and out of the 
tracking feature, change the display 
colors, choose the date and time format, 
and select the font type and size. Unfor- 
tunately, some of our selections caused 
the interface's display window to truncate 
the date and time. 

The program offers standard alarm fea- 
tures, a chime that plays at specified inter- 
vals, and a lap timer. The application does 
not display a clock on your System Tray 
or on the Windows Taskbar. However, it 
does place an icon on the System Tray for 
one-click access to the program. 

Virtual Stopwatch comes with online 
help that includes a table of contents and 
index. The help information is current 
and provides thorough descriptions of 
how to use the program and its configura- 
tion screens. 

Make Your Clock Work For You 

Your time is valuable. As the prod- 
ucts in this article illustrate, shareware 
clocks enhance the basic Windows clock 
and can help you be more productive. 
Why not try one and find out how it can 
work for you? per 

by Carmen Carmack 



66 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 




JE» 




ighten Up. 



nsn't so long ago that if you wanted to bring 
data with you, your hardware had to come 
Well, that's all in the past now thanks to 
lew SanDisk Cruzer™ Mini. At under half 
unce, the Cruzer Mini goes anywhere, and 
up to 256MB of flash memory, it takes a lot 
it. Hi-speed USB 2.0 compliant, SanDisk's 
:er Mini lets you transfer data faster than 
before. And at less than 8mm thick, all 
eds is a single USB slot. Just drag, drop, 
go. It's all about convenience - no extra 
ware, no worries. 

/hether you're installing utilities or updating 
drivers for the umpteenth time, you can 
your files with you wherever you go - and 
won't even need your dolly. 




more infor...„* 
zer Mini, visit www.sandisk.com/smart 




aiDisk^ 



SanDisk and the SanDisk logo are registered trademarks and Cruzer is a trademark of 
SanDisk Corporation. Other brands and products are trademarks of their respective holders. 
©2004 SanDisk Corporation. All rights reserved. 




1 ips & Tweaks 



Work Smarter 

Tips For Increasing Productivity 



Get More Done In Less Time 



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# Windows 

Find The Desktop (Windows 98/Me/2000/XP). 

Accessing the Desktop can be tedious when it's 
hidden under a gaggle of open windows. Windows 
offers at least two ways to get to the Desktop. Click 
the Show Desktop icon in the Quick Launch section of 
the Taskbar to hide all open windows. Click the icon 
again to return all windows to their former locations. 

If you're dragging an item from a window or an 
area of the Desktop and you need to see the rest of 
the Desktop, drag the item to an open area of the 
Taskbar and let the pointer hover over the area for a 
few seconds. All open win- 
dows will be minimized to 
the Taskbar, giving you an 
unobstructed view of the 
Desktop. To bring the win- 
dows back, click the Show 
Desktop icon. 

Add Folders To The 
Taskbar (Win98/Me/2000/ 
XP). Adding Desktop short- 
cuts to your favorite folders 
is one way to access them 
quickly. But if the Desktop is 
hidden by open windows or 
numerous icons and shortcuts, 
you may not be able to find 
your folder shortcuts easily. 

To prevent this, add your folders to the Taskbar. 
Right-click a blank area of the Taskbar and select 
Toolbars and New Toolbar from the pop-up menu. 
Navigate to the target folder, click it, and then click 
OK. In Win2000/XP, the folder will appear as a toolbar 
on the Taskbar. The toolbar will contain a single entry 
with the folder's name and a set of double arrows. 
Click the double arrows to display a pop-up menu of 
the folder's contents. 

In Win98/Me, the names of the folder items may be 
scattered across the Taskbar. To clean up the mess, lo- 
cate and click the vertical divider to the left of the 
folder name and drag it as far as possible to the right. 
This produces a single folder name with double ar- 
rows on the end. Click the double arrows to display a 
pop-up menu of the folder's contents. 



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AutoCorrect.. Shortcut Key. Shortcut lay: 2265, Alt+X 



If you frequently use certain symbols, you can 
add them to the AutoCorrect tool in Office and 
quickly insert them into Office documents. 



Get To Explorer Faster (Win98/Me/2000/XP). 

Windows Explorer offers a quick and easy way to access 
and move around your computer's file system. With 
Explorer's multipane display and hierarchical file tree, 
you'll always know exactly where you are. You can 
launch Explorer through the Start menu, but there's a 
faster way: Click a folder or drive icon (that you've al- 
ready placed on your Desktop) to select it, hold down the 
SHIFT key, and double-click the icon. This method also 
works for any icon that normally has an Explore option 
in the right-click pop-up menu, such as My Computer, 
My Documents, and Network Neighborhood. 

Shorten A Search (Win98/ 
Me/2000/XP). When you're 
looking for an item on your 
computer, and you know 
which folder it resides in, you 
can restrict your search to that 
specific folder and speed up 
the search process. Right-click 
the target folder and select 
Find (in Win98) or Search (in 
WinMe/2000/XP) from the 
pop-up menu. This will open 
the Find/Search window, 
with the folder listed in the 
Look In field. 



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# Microsoft Office 

Zoom Around A Document (Office 97/2000/XP/ 
2003). You can use your mouse's scroll wheel to enlarge 
or reduce the text and image size within a document. 
Hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard and move 
the scroll wheel forward to zoom in or back to zoom out. 
Use AutoCorrect To Add Symbols (Office 97/ 
2000/XP/2003). The AutoCorrect tool in Office can cor- 
rect common spelling mistakes. You can also use it to 
insert common symbols. For example, type (c) to gen- 
erate the copyright symbol (©); type (r) to generate the 
registered symbol (®); or type (tm) to generate the 
trademark symbol (™). If this tip doesn't work for you, 
it's likely that AutoCorrect is turned off. To make the 
feature active, select AutoCorrect from the Tools menu, 
check the Replace Text As You Type checkbox, and 
click OK. 



68 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



1 ips & Tweaks 




To add other symbols, click Insert and Symbol. Click 
a symbol once in the scrollable list to select it and click 
AutoCorrect. In the Replace Text As You Type section, 
the symbol you selected should appear in the With 
field. Enter a sequence of 
characters in the Replace field 
that you want AutoCorrect to 
recognize as the signal to gen- 
erate this symbol. Click Add 
and click OK. 



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9 Microsoft Word 

Keep Documents A Menu 
Away (Word 97/2000/2002/ 
2003). Word maintains a short 
list of recently used files, but 
the list is a revolving door. 
When you open a new docu- 
ment, the oldest document on 
the list may be dropped, so you 
can never be sure a specific 
document is there. 

For fast access to frequently 
used documents, add a Work 
entry to the File menu. The 

Work list is static; adding a document won't bump an ex- 
isting document off the list. 

Click Tools and Customize. Click the Commands tab 
and select Built-in Menus from the list of categories. In 
the list of commands, click and hold the Work entry, drag 
it to the location of your choice on the File menu (the 
menu will expand), and click Close. 

When you open a document that you want to add to 
the Work list, click File, Work, and Add To Work Menu. 
To remove a document from the Work menu, press 
CTRL-ALT- - and select the document from the Work 
menu. This removes the document from the menu but 
does not affect the original document. 

Open The Last Document You Worked On (Word 
97/2000/2002/2003). You can create a Desktop shortcut 
that will launch Word and load the document you were 
working on the last time you used the program. 

Locate Winword.exe, which is usually found at 
C:\PROGRAM FILESXMICROSOFT OFFICEXOF- 
FICE11 in Word 2003 or at C:\PROGRAM FILESXMI- 
CROSOFT OFF/CEXOFFICE in other versions of Word 
(where MICROSOFT OFFICE is the Office version). 
Right-click and hold the Winword.exe file and drag it 
to the Desktop. Release the mouse button and select 
Create Shortcut Here from the pop-up menu. Right- 
click the new WinWord shortcut and select Properties 
from the pop-up menu. Add a space after the last 
character in the Target field, type /mfilel, and click 
Apply. Click the General tab, rename the shortcut to 



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If you often enter the same information in Excel, 
such as a product list, you can enter the informa- 
tion into a Custom List. To enter the list into a 
worksheet, type the name of one of the list entries. 
The number of list entries you add to the work- 
sheet will depend on the number of cells you select. 



something more descriptive (such as "Word Recent"), 
and click OK. Whenever you want to open the last docu- 
ment you worked on in Word, double-click this shortcut. 

Microsoft Excel 
Expand Charts (Excel 2003). 

Excel 2003 features a new List 
command, which lets you select 
a column of data to be a list. 
Lists have special properties, in- 
cluding the ability to self-ex- 
pand to encompass new data. 

To create a list, select one or 
more cells in a column. With 
the cursor within the selected 
cells, right-click and select 
Create List from the pop-up 
menu. A dialog box will ap- 
pear, displaying the cells that 
make up the current list. Click 
OK to create the list. 

The selected cells will dis- 
play with a border around 
them. One cell will contain an 
asterisk (*), indicating the end 
of the list. If you select this cell and enter data, the list 
will expand by one cell to include the new data. The 
cell with the asterisk will move down by one cell. Any 
chart you create that references this list will automati- 
cally update with the new information. 

Custom Lists (Excel 97/2000/2002/2003). If you fre- 
quently enter the same information into Excel work- 
sheets, such as a list of products, you can cut down on 
some of the typing by creating a custom list. 

Click Tools and Options and select the Custom Lists 
tab. Select New List and enter the list items, one entry 
per line. When you're done, click Add and OK. 

To enter a custom list into a worksheet, select a cell 
and type an item from the list. Expand the cell selection 
to match the number of items you want to include from 
the list. 

• Microsoft Outlook 

Sort It All Out (Outlook 97/2000/2002/2003). You can 

sort information in Outlook by clicking a column 
head, such as Subject. To sort by multiple columns, 
such as From, Received, and Subject, select column 
headers in the order you want to sort the information. 
Hold down the SHIFT key after you select the first 
column or the next selection replaces, rather than 
adds to, the sort criteria. I 

by Tom Nelson and Mary O'Connor 



PC Today / August 2004 69 




1 ips & Tweaks 



Optimization Central 

Tips & Tweaks 
For Improving Windows 

No-Cost Ways To Boost Performance 



Customize Start menu — 



• Start Up Where You Left Off 
(Windows XP) 

WinXP's Hibernation mode allows you to shut down 
your computer and later return, almost 
instantly, to the state it was in before 
you turned it off. 

For some reason known only to 
Microsoft, Hibernation isn't listed as an 
option when you select Start and Turn 
Off Computer. To force the Hibernation 
option to appear, press and hold the 
SHIFT key when the Turn Off Computer 
screen displays. When it appears, click 
Hibernation, and everything currently 
in your computer's memory will be 
written to your hard drive before your 
computer shuts down. When you restart 
your computer, the data is restored to 
your computer's memory, and you'll be 
back in business. 



To remove records of 
recently accessed 
documents, program^ 
Web site Sj dick Clear. 



Start Menu Settings 

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You can hunt around the 
Control Panel folder to locate 
the Administrative Tools in 
Windows 2000/XP, or you can 
add them back to the Start 
menu, for easy access. 



# Ditch The Animation & 

Speed Up Searches (WinXP) 

You'd think Microsoft would have learned a lesson 
about animated helpers after the disdain many users 
have shown for Clippy, the animated paper clip helper 
in Microsoft Office. Instead, Microsoft put the same 
kind of animated helper in WinXP's Search function. 

If delaying a search to watch a cartoon character per- 
form seems like a bad idea to you, you can ditch it by 
clicking Start and Search and selecting Change 
Preferences from the left window pane. Next, select 
Without An Animated Screen Character. You will see 
the character one last time as it walks off into the 
proverbial sunset, but after that you can speed your 
way through searches without any on-screen company. 

# Prevent The Indexing Service From 
Hogging CPU Power (Win2000/XP) 

The Indexing Service can speed up local file searches by 
maintaining a list of files stored on your local hard drive. 



But because it runs in the background, the Indexing 
Service steals processing power. 

To determine whether the Indexing Service is 
slowing you down, open the Task 
Manager by pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL. 
Select the Processes tab and double-click 
the CPU column to sort currently run- 
ning processes by CPU use, with the 
heaviest users listed first. The Indexing 
Service goes by the name Cidaemon.exe. 
If it appears at or near the top of the list 
and is consuming more than 70% of 
your CPU power, you may want to turn 
it off. If so, select Cidaemon.exe from 
the list and click End Process. This will 
shut down the Indexing Service for now, 
but it may restart the next time you boot 
your computer. 

To disable the Indexing Service per- 
manently, click Start and Run. In the 
Run dialog box, type services. msc and 

press ENTER or click OK. In the 

Service window, scroll down and right-click the 
Indexing Service entry. Select Properties from the 
pop-up menu. Click Disabled from the Startup Type 
drop-down and click OK. 

• Switch Quickly Between Applications 
(Win98/Me/2000/XP) 

You can assign hotkeys to the applications you use 
most often and then switch between applications with a 
keystroke or two. 

To add a hotkey for an application, click Start, click 
Programs or All Programs (depending on your 
Windows version), right-click the application, and se- 
lect Properties from the pop-up menu. (If your applica- 
tion icon is already on the Start menu, just right-click it 
and select Properties.) Select the Shortcut tab. To assign 
a hotkey, click once in the Shortcut Key field, type the 
key combination you want to use, and click OK. Be sure 
to select a key combination that Windows (or another 



70 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



1 ips & Tweaks 




application) doesn't already use. For example, try 
SHIFT-ALT-1 or SHIFT-ALT-2. 

• Turn Off Special Effects (WinXP) 

WinXP uses a large amount of CPU time to handle 
system events, including the many WinXP GUI (graph- 
ical user interface) effects. You can select the visual effects 
you want to enable and fine-tune WinXP to suit your 
computer's performance or your personal preference. 

Click Start, right-click My Computer, and select 
Properties from the pop-up menu. In the System 
Properties dialog box, click the Advanced tab. In the 
Performance section, click Settings. In the Performance 
Options dialog box, click the Visual Effects tab to view 
a list of visual effects that you can enable or disable. 
There are four additional options to choose from. If you 
click the radio button for Let Windows Choose What's 
Best For My Computer, WinXP will at- 
tempt to decide which GUI effects to 
use. If you click the radio button for 
Adjust For Best Appearance, all GUI 
effects will be active. With Adjust For 
Best Performance all GUI effects are 
disabled. Finally, select Custom to pick 
and choose the effects you want to en- 
able or disable. Make your selections, 
click OK, and click OK again. 

• Restart Faster 
(Win95/98/Me) 

Installing an application or making 

changes to Windows often requires 

restarting your computer. After you 

select Restart from the Shut Down 

Windows dialog box, hold down the 

SHIFT key and click Yes in the Shut 

Down Windows dialog box. This will force Windows 

to perform a warm restart, which is fairly quick, 

rather than a complete shutdown and restart. 

• Turn Your Computer Into A Network 
Server (Win98/Me) 

Win98/Me configure the file and directory cache 
size to match a computer's intended use. By default, 
Windows assumes a computer is a Desktop computer 
and sets aside a small amount of system memory for the 
file and directory cache. If you have more than 64MB 
RAM, you can change your computer's role to that of a 
Network Server. Windows increases the file and direc- 
tory cache, which will boost file system performance and 
add a little zip to your Windows experience. 

Right-click the My Computer icon on the Desktop 
and select Properties from the pop-up menu. Click the 
Performance tab and click File System. In the File 





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You can add a shortcut key (a 
specific key combination) that 
will allow you to quickly launch 
an application or switch between 
open applications. 



System Properties window, select the Hard Disk tab. In 
the drop-down menu for Typical Role Of This 
Computer, select Network Server. Click OK and restart 
your computer. 

• Skip The Screen Saver 
(Win98/Me/2000/XP) 

Some screen savers use a fair amount of processor time 
that a background process could better use. If you use 
your computer as a server, or you share devices con- 
nected to your computer (such as a printer or a net- 
work connection), you should disable the screen saver. 

Right-click an empty area of the Desktop and select 
Properties from the pop-up menu. Select the Screen Saver 
tab and choose None as the Screen Saver. 

If you use Win2000/XP, and you want to turn off 
your display after a period of unuse, click Power, select 
a time delay from the Turn Off Monitor 
drop-down menu, and click OK. 

• Speed Up Access To 
Administrator Tools 
(Win2000/XP) 

The Administrator tools in Win2000/ XP 
are relegated to the Control Panel folder. 
You can restore the tools to the Start 
menu for easier access. 

In Win2000, click Start, Settings, and 
Taskbar & Start Menu and select the 
Advanced tab. In the Start Menu Setting 
list, put a check mark next to Display 
Administrative Tools and click OK. 

In WinXP, click Start and Control 
Panel. Select the Appearance And 
Themes category and click Taskbar 
And Start Menu. Click the Start Menu 

tab and click Customize. Select the Advanced tab. 

Scroll down the Start Menu Items list to System 

Administrative Tools. Select the display option you 

want to use and click OK. 

• Don't Be Afraid To Read The Directions 

Many individuals hate reading manuals or referring 
to Help files, and we're no exception. But reading the di- 
rections now can sometimes save you a lot of trouble 
later. The tips and tweaks above cover a number of OSes, 
and some automatically edit the Windows Registry, 
which can be risky. Be sure to back up the Registry, or the 
Registry key you plan to edit, before making any 
changes. For more information about backing up and 
restoring the Registry, launch the Registry Editor and 
select Help from the application menu. I 

by Tom Nelson and Mary O'Connor 



PC Today / August 2004 71 




1 ips & Tweaks 



Surf Better 

Tips For Navigating The Internet 



is 



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# Customize Web Content Updates 

Internet Explorer maintains a cache of Web content in the 

Temporary Internet Files folder on 

your hard drive. Loading content from 

your hard drive is faster than having to 

retrieve the information from the 

Internet, which means faster browsing. 

However, some of the content within 

the folder may not be current because a 

lot of Web content changes on a daily 

or even hourly basis. 

You can configure how often IE 
checks for updated information stored 
in the cache. In IE, open the Tools 
menu and select Internet Options. 
Next, select the General tab and click 
the Settings button in the Temporary 
Internet Files section. In the Settings di- 
alog box, you can select how often IE 
should check for newer versions of 
stored Web pages. 

Select the Every Visit To The Page 
option, and IE updates the Web page's 
content each time you visit the page; 
however, you may experience a de- 
crease in performance when browsing 
previously viewed Web pages. Choose 
Every Time You Start Internet Ex- 
plorer, and IE will check for updates 
when you access a previously viewed 
Web page. IE will not check for up- 
dates during the same session. Select 
the Automatically radio button, and IE 
checks for updates automatically. 
Select the Never option, and your 
browsing performance will be en- 
hanced, but you risk viewing outdated 
Web content. You can update pages manually, however, 
by pressing the F5 key to refresh the Web page. 

# Organize Your Favorites 

When you come across a Web site you know you'll visit 
again, you can add the URL to your Favorites list in IE so 
you can quickly access the site later on. You can also or- 
ganize your Favorites list through the Organize Favorites 
dialog box. Open the Favorites menu and select Organize 



Favorites. The options within the Organize Favorites 

dialog box let you create, rename, and delete folders and 

links. You can also move existing links 

from your Favorites List from one 

folder to another. 



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Customize Web 
Content Updates 

In the Settings dialog box, you 
can customize how often 
Internet Explorer will check for 
updates for stored Web pages. 




Organize Your Favorites 

Using the Organize Favorites 
dialog box, you can organize 
your list of favorite URLs. 



• ICS and Non-Windows XP 
Clients 

So you are sharing an Internet connec- 
tion among multiple PCs. Once you en- 
abled ICS (Internet Connection 
Sharing) on your PC, you must con- 
figure the remaining computers to be 
ICS clients. The process is slightly dif- 
ferent if you have workstations run- 
ning pre-WinXP platforms. When 
you use the Network Setup Wizard to 
enable ICS on a computer running 
WinXP, you'll have the option of cre- 
ating a Network Setup Disk. For com- 
puters running Windows 98/98 SE/ 
Me, you can use the Network Setup 
Wizard to configure ICS. To run the 
wizard on these platforms, you will 
need the Network Setup Disk you cre- 
ated when enabling ICS on the host 
computer or you can run the wizard 
directly from the WinXP CD. To run 
the wizard using the floppy diskette, 
insert it into the floppy drive and 
double-click Netsetup.exe. To start 
the wizard from the WinXP CD, insert 
the CD in the optical drive, click the 
option to perform additional tasks, 
and click Set Up Home Or Small Office 
With Networking. 



• Turn Off Automatic Image Resizing 

Are you tired of scrolling up and down a page just to 
view a picture that runs off a Web page? Then use the 
Automatic Image Resizing tool. IE 6's Automatic Image 
Resizing tool automatically adjusts the size of pictures to 
fit within your browser so you don't have to scroll up or 
down the display to view an entire image. When you 
want to resize an image, roll your pointer over the lower- 
right corner of the image, and the Automatic Image 



72 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



1 ips & Tweaks 




Resizing icon appears. Click the icon to make the image 
fit in your browser window without having to scroll or 
return the image to its original size. 

The downside of Automatic Image Resizing is that it 
may reduce the quality of certain images. You can dis- 
able Automatic Image Resizing, if you choose. Open the 
Tools menu in IE 6 and select Internet Options. Under 
the Advanced tab, deselect the Enable Automatic Image 
Resizing checkbox and click OK. When you disable 
Automatic Image Resizing, images will appear in their 
original format on-screen, and you cannot resize them. 

A Forgotten Content Advisor Password 

You can restrict access to restricted Web sites using IE's 
Content Advisor feature. By creating a Supervisor 
Password, only users who know the password can access 
restricted Web sites. However, what happens if you 
forget the password? The workaround for this is to delete 
the following Registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MA- 
CHINE\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\WINDOWS\CUR- 
RENTVERSION\POLICIES\RATINGS. After you delete 
this key, you can open IE and disable the Content 
Advisor. When you are prompted for the Supervisor 
Password, leave it blank and click 
OK. You can then re-enable the 
Content Advisor feature and create a 
new Supervisor Password. 



• Share A Web Page 

Have you ever visited a Web site 
containing information that you 
want to share with a friend, your 
family, or your co-workers? In IE, 
you can send the page or a link to the 
page via email to someone else. Open 
the File menu, select Send, and click 
Page By E-mail or Link By E-mail. IE 
launches the email program it is con- 
figured to use. The email message 
you send will contain the informa- 
tion you've chosen. All you need to 
do is address the email and click the 
Send button. 



General Security Privacy Content Connections Programs Advanced 



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_ Enable Install On Demand [Internet Explorer] 

Enable Install On Demand [Other] 

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• Shortcuts To Your Favorite Web Pages 

Do you have a favorite Web page that you visit regu- 
larly? You can add the page to your Favorites list and 
quickly access that page whenever you want. To do so, 
navigate to your favorite Web page, open the Favorites 
menu, and select Add To Favorites. In the Add Favorite 
dialog box, select the folder in which you want to 
create the link and click OK. 

You could also create a shortcut to your favorite 
Web page on your Desktop. Open the File menu, select 
Send, and click Shortcut To Desktop. The next time you 
want to access the site, you can just double-click the 
shortcut on your Desktop. 

• Keep Your Favorites List Clutter-Free 

Your Favorites list is used to keep track of and pro- 
vide quick access to your favorite Web pages. After 
awhile though, your Favorites list can begin to look 
a little cluttered depending on the number of links 
you have created. You could clean up the list by going 
through it one item at a time, or you could tweak IE 
to make it appear a little less cluttered. Open the 
Tools menu in IE and click Internet Options. Under 
the Advanced tab, select the Enable 
Personalized Favorites Menu 
checkbox and click OK. IE will hide 
the links on your Favorites list that 
you have not used recently. You 
can still access these links, but 
you'll need to click the arrow at the 
bottom the Favorites menu. 



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Keep Your Favorites List Clutter-Free 

If your Favorites list is looking full, 
you can configure IE to hide the links 
you have not used recently. 



• Improve Web Printouts 

Have you ever printed a Web page from within IE only 
to find that the Web page is too large and some of the text 
runs off the page? Next time, try printing the Web page 
in Landscape mode. Open the File menu in IE and select 
Page Setup. Select the Landscape radio button in the 
Orientation area of the Page Setup dialog box. Using the 
Landscape setting gives you more horizontal room on a 
piece of paper when printing the Web page. 



• Navigate IE Using Your 
Keyboard 

When navigating IE, some people 
use their mouse while others prefer 
to use their keyboard. Using your 
keyboard is sometimes faster than 
using your mouse. The Forward and 
Back buttons are the most frequently 
used buttons in IE for moving 
between Web pages. Moving for- 
ward or backward using your key- 
board is just as easy. Use the ALT-Right arrow key 
combination to move forward in IE and use the 
ALT-Left arrow key combination to move to the pre- 
vious Web page. I 

by Chris Pirillo 

Chris Pirillo is the founder ofLockergnome.com. He writes a 
monthly column for CPU magazine (www.cpumag.com). 



PC Today / August 2004 73 



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SHOWTIME 




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1 ips & Tweaks 



Security & Networking 

Tips For Making Safe Connections 




Internet Connection Firewall 
(Windows XP) 

Internet Connection Firewall is software that you can 
use to set restrictions on the information that trans- 
fers between your home or small-office network. 

If your network uses ICS (Internet Connection 
Sharing) to provide Internet access to multiple 
computers, it is a good idea to turn on Internet 
Connection Firewall on the shared Internet 
connection. However, you can turn on Internet 
Connection Sharing and Internet Connection Fire- 
wall separately. 

Internet Connection Firewall can also protect a 
single computer that you have connected to the 
Internet. If this computer is connected to the 
Internet with a cable modem, a DSL (Digital 
Subscriber Line) modem, or a dial-up modem, 
Internet Connection Firewall protects your Internet 
connection. Do not turn on Internet Connection 
Firewall for VPN (virtual private network) connec- 
tions because Internet Connection Firewall inter- 
feres with file sharing and other 
VPN functions. 

How Secure Is Your 
Internet Connection? 

Whenever you have an open 
line between the computers on 
your network and the Internet, 
you are putting your network at 
risk. If you have just one com- 
puter connected to the Internet, 
make sure you disable file and 
printer sharing on your system. 
This may seem like overkill, but 
with a combination of Network 
Firewalls, your privacy should 
remain intact. 

Not to worry, there is an alternative to this 
extreme idea. Consider installing a network pro- 
tocol, such as IPX/SPX (Internetwork Packet 
Exchange/Sequenced Packet Exchange), that is not 
used on the Internet. You can then disable file and 
printer sharing on the TCP/IP (Transmission 
Control Protocol /Internet Protocol) and enable file 
and printer sharing using IPX/SPX. 



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ShieldsUP]! 




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For a secure home or small-office network, it is 
recommended that you configure your network to 
take advantage of WinXP Internet Connection 
Sharing and Internet Connection Firewall or to use a 
residential gateway. 

ShieldsUP! Time To Probe 
For Security Leaks 

You can now check to see how well you have pro- 
tected your system. A utility named ShieldsUP! will 
evaluate your system for security weaknesses. 

You can access this utility from the Gibson 
Research Corporation Web site (www.grc.com). The 
site will probe your system and let you know of any 
security holes. This is a great starting point because it 
will scan your system and report any security issues 
and how to resolve them. 

Once you have entered the GRC Web site, click 
the ShieldsUP! link to view the network security 
utilities they supply. Scroll through the page and 
click the link Shields Up. To begin the scan, click the 
Proceed button. 



Web Sites Extracting 
Personal Information 



ShieldsUP! Time To Probe For Security Leaks 
To scan your system, click each button in the 
ShieldsUP! Services table. Once the report is 
complete, it will outline any security holes 
and recommendations to fix the problem. 



How much information can 
someone learn about you and 
your surfing habits? You 
would be surprised at what in- 
formation others can find 
about you or other users on 
your network. Firewalls only 
defend PC ports that allow file 
sharing; they don't hide your 
browsing habits. 

To see what information 

you're giving away, check 

Privacy. net's analysis page 
(www.privacy.net/analyze), which lists the infor- 
mation that can be collected by Web sites as you 
surf the Internet. 

The report includes the following information: 
Cookies that have been stored on your system from 
the current Web site 

The name of the originating Web page, if a link 
was used 



PC Today / August 2004 75 




1 ips & Tweaks 



Browser configuration infor- 
mation 

Whether JavaScript, VBScript, 
or JAVA is enabled 
Traceroute details indicating 
the number of hops before the 
Web page was loaded 



Wireless Network 
Security 

Unless your wireless LAN 
(local-area network) is self- 
contained (a small network in 
a meeting room without In- 
ternet connections, for example), the access point 
is connected to the corporate network. You may 
want to be cautious about this type of setup be- 
cause it can easily serve as a bridge for wireless 
clients, letting them enable their connections to 
your local wired network. You could think of it as 
a bridge from untrusted to trusted. There is no 
need to consider all wireless users in your organi- 
zation untrustworthy; more so, it's the unwanted 
connections you want to avoid. 

You can use 802. llx where you can or you can 
choose to set up a VPN where you can't use 802. llx. 
If you do this, an intruder may be able to make a 
connection to the access point but will not be able to 
access your network. The only way the intruder 
could access the corporate network would be to 
supply appropriate credentials to either the VPN or 
the RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User 
Service) server. 

You may also consider setting up a firewall. Just re- 
member that placement is important here. If a single 
firewall is available, you don't want to put the firewall 
between the access point and users attempting to con- 
nect to it. Instead, you want the firewall 
between the access point and your in- 
ternal network. 




Web Sites Extracting Personal Information 
This is an example of the list that appears 
after the privacy scan is complete. 



Disable Simple File Sharing 

Windows XP Home Edition and XP 
Professional workstations that are not 
part of a domain use a network access 
model called Simple File Sharing. 
Simple File Sharing allows all at- 
tempts to log on to the computer from 
across the network to use the Guest 
account, which prevents them from 
using a local Administrator account 
that wasn't configured with a pass- 
word. This means that if you're 



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connected to the Internet and 
don't use a secure firewall, 
your files contained within 
those shares are available to 
just about anybody. 

To disable Simple File Shar- 
ing on WinXP Pro, follow these 
steps: 

1) Open the My Computer 
window 

2) From the Tools menu, 
select Folder Options 

3) Select the View tab 

4) Scroll through Advance 
Settings and remove the check from the Use Simple 
File Sharing checkbox 

5) Click Apply 

Unfortunately, WinXP Home doesn't let you dis- 
able Simple File Sharing and is unable to join a do- 
main, so the best you can do is to make sure you set 
your shared folders to Read Only, hide the file 
shares by placing a dollar sign after the folder name, 
or, if you're using NTFS, use the Make Private op- 
tion in the folder properties. For WinXP Pro work- 
stations that are part of a domain or that have 
Simple File Sharing disabled, use the NT security 
model that requires all users to authenticate before 
granting access to shared folders. 

User Passwords For All 

WinXP Pro and WinXP Home let users utilize blank 
passwords to log in to their local workstations. 
However, in WinXP Pro you cannot log on to a com- 
puter remotely over the network using blank pass- 
words. Obviously, using blank passwords is a bad 
idea if you are worried about security. Make sure 
you assign passwords to all accounts, 
especially the Administrator account 
and any accounts with Administrator 
privileges. All user accounts in WinXP 
Home have administrative privileges 
and no passwords by default. You'll 
want to patch up this security "hole" as 
soon as possible. 



i «™-w~. i 



Disable Simple File Sharing 
You can disable Simple 
File Sharing in Windows 
XP Professional. 



by Chris Pirillo 

Chris Pirillo is the founder of 

Lockergnome.com. He writes a monthly 

column for CPU magazine 

(www.cpumag.com). 



76 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



1 ips & Tweaks 




PC Yesterday 

Tips For Maintaining Windows 3.x/95 Systems 



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A Patch In Time 
(Win95) 
Microsoft main- 
tains a Windows 
95 Update site 
where you can 
download and in- 
stall all available 
system updates. 



A Patch In Time (Win95) 

Many computer users assume that 
Win95 became obsolete in the 
minds of Microsoft developers 
with the release of Windows 98. 
Actually, Microsoft released crit- 
ical updates and patches for 
Win95 throughout 1999 and 2000. 
However, because Win95 does not 
have a Windows Update utility, 
you must install updates manually. Visit the 
Microsoft Windows 95 Update site (www. micro 
soft.com/windows95/downloads) for a complete list 
of critical updates, service packs, and other fixes. 
Download and install any you don't think you have. 
Make sure you install critical updates and service in 
chronological order — oldest to newest by date. 

• A Tisket; A Taskbar (Win3.1) 

Pining for Win95 features on your Win 3.1 machine? 
Download Logical Sky's TaskTool (www.logi 
calsky.com), a shareware ($24.95 to purchase) 
product that adds a Win95-style Taskbar to your 
Win3.1 Desktop. 

1 Create Your Own 
File Associations (Win3.1) 

In Win3.1 you can create custom file extensions, such 
as JaneDoe.rpt for a report in Word (the extension 
would normally be JaneDoe.doc). This feature gives 
you more flexibility over your eight-letter file names. 
Unfortunately, Win3.1 will not know which programs 
to use to open those odd file extensions unless you 
force the OS to associate the file correctly. In File 
Manager, select File and click Associate. In the 
Associate dialog box under Files With Extension, 
enter the file extension you created. Scroll the list until 
you locate the application that created the file and 
click OK. (Don't use file extensions that are already in 
use, such as .DOC, JPG, or .EXE.) 

• Get Help Online (Win95) 

Microsoft may not support Win95 anymore, but it 
still makes an Online User's Guide available for the 
OS. To access the guide, connect to the Internet and 
then open it from within the Win95 Help utility. 



From the Start menu, click Help. Under the Find tab, 
type overview. The list of topics under Click A 
Topic, Then Click Display represents the subjects in 
the Online User's Guide. Click one and click Display 
to view the information. 

Make Program Manager Behave (Win3.1) 

If you alter Program Manager by moving icons 
around or opening and closing program group win- 
dows, Win3.1 may save those changes and apply 
them to the Program Manager interface when you 
restart your PC. That's fine if you intend to reorga- 
nize Program Manager's elements, but it's a pain if 
you only want to rearrange those elements tem- 
porarily. Fortunately, you can assign permanent 
settings to Program Manager. Rearrange Program 
Manager to suit your tastes and click Options. 
Confirm that you have selected the Save Settings 
On Exit checkbox. Restart your PC. Return to 
Options in Program Manager and deselect the Save 
Settings On Exit checkbox. If you later want to 
change the layout, rearrange Program Manager and 
repeat the procedure. 

Prepare for Emergencies (Win95) 

Win95 comes with a recovery tool, the ERU 
(Emergency Recovery Utility). The ERU will create an 
emergency boot diskette that contains your current 
system configuration. Should Win95 refuse to start 
normally, you can boot using the EBD and restore 
your settings to the state they were in when you 
made the floppy diskette. The ERU utility, Eru.exe, is 
located on the Win95 Setup CD-ROM in the 
OTHER/MISC/ERU folder. For help running the 
ERU, visit Microsoft Knowledge Base (support.micro 
soft.com) article 139437. 

Protect Your Data (Win3.1) 

Win3.1 did not come with the disk defragmentation, 
error-checking, or backup utilities that Microsoft 
bundled with Win95. Nevertheless, Microsoft did 
not leave Win3.1 users in the cold. DOS 6, upon 
which Win3.1 resides, comes with Defrag, ScanDisk, 
and Backup; early versions of their Win95 counter- 
parts. To run any of these utilities in Win3.1, exit 
Windows. At the DOS (C:) prompt, type cd\dos and 



PC Today / August 2004 77 




1 ips & Tweaks 



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Pump Up Performance 
(Win3.1) 

By minimizing the number 
of program groups and 
icons in Program 
Manager, and by only 
keeping one window open 
at a time, you can reduce 
consumption of precious 
system resources. 



press ENTER. Type the name of the utility (such as 
scandisk for ScanDisk) and press ENTER. If DOS 
does not execute the command, the utility may re- 
side in the Windows directory. Type cd .. and press 
ENTER. Type cd\windows and press ENTER. Type 
the command and press ENTER. Always run Backup 
first, followed by ScanDisk and then Defrag. 

1 Pump Up Performance (Win3.1) 

Because Win3.1 often 
runs on older machines 
with limited resources, 
system performance can 
be a real challenge. Im- 
prove the performance of 
your Win3.1 machine by 
turning off unnecessary 
visual extras and sticking 
to the basics. 
First, turn off Win3.1's wall- 
paper. From Control Panel, double- 
click the Desktop icon to open the 
Desktop dialog box. Select None in 
the Wallpaper File drop-down 
menu. (You can choose a pattern 
from the Pattern drop-down list if 
you want to add a little spice to 
your Desktop.) Next, select one of 
Win3.1's built-in screen savers 
rather than a fancy third-party 
model. Better yet, skip the screen saver and turn 
your monitor off when you are away from your PC. 
Finally, whittle Program Manager's icons and 
groups to the bare minimum (using the Move and 
Delete commands on Program Manager's File 
menu). In addition, always close windows and pro- 
grams you are not using during operation. 

Smooth Sailing On 

The Internet (Win3.1/95) 

The versions of Internet Explorer that Microsoft origi- 
nally developed for use with Win3.1/95 are woefully 
inadequate in the areas of Internet security and 
privacy. You can no longer download any updated 
version of IE that runs on Win3.1/95. Fortunately, 
Netscape and Opera offer versions of their browsers 
thatrunonWin3.1/95. 

Win95 can run the latest version of the speedy yet 
powerful, combined browser/email client Opera 
(Opera 7.23). It can also run any version of Netscape 
up to version 6.2. Opera is available as freeware and it 
includes banner ads; a fee of $29.25 will eliminate the 
banners and gives you technical support. By the time 



this article prints, Opera 7.5 may also be available. 
Netscape is a popular combined browser/email 
client. It requires more hard drive space and memory 
than Opera. Download Opera from www.opera.com. 
To download Netscape, visit channels. netscape 
.com/ns/browsers/default.jsp and click the Product 
Archive link on the left. 

Win3.1 users must use programs built for 16-bit 
technology, which makes it difficult to find good soft- 
ware. Opera still makes available Opera 3.62, which is 
compatible with Win3.1 and is better than early ver- 
sions of IE (although it lacks the feature set of Opera 
7.23). To download Opera 3.62, go to arc. opera 
xom/pub/opera/win/362/english and click the 
ow362el6.exe link. Additionally, Netscape 4.08 runs 
on Win3.1; use the download information above to 
locate this version. 

Supercharge Windows (Win95) 

If you haven't installed Microsoft's PowerToys for 
Win95, you should. PowerToys are a collection of 
utilities that expand the features of Win95. They 
include Desktop Menu, which lets you open Desktop 
items from your Taskbar; FlexiCD, which gives you 
the option of playing audio CDs from the Taskbar; 
and the granddaddy of them all, Tweak UI. Tweak 
UI is a powerful customization tool that lets you 
adjust a variety of Win95 settings including those 
for your mouse, browser, and Desktop. You can 
download PowerToys from Win- 
dows 95's Update site (www. micro 
soft.com/windows95/downloads); 
click the link under the Power And 
Kernal Toys heading. 

However, Microsoft released an 
update to Tweak UI (version 1.33), 
which you should install instead of 
the version that comes with the Win95 
PowerToys. Download Tweak UI 1.33 
at www.microsoft.com/ntworksta 
tion/downloads/PowerToys/Net 
working/NTTweakUI.asp. Micro- 
soft recommends that you not use 
PowerToys if you have Win95 0SR1 
(original equipment manufacturer 
Service Release 1) installed; however, 
most users experience no problems. If 
you run into trouble, you can uninstall 
PowerToys using the Add/Remove 
Programs utility in Control Panel. I 






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Supercharge Windows 
(Win95) 

The Tweak UI PowerToy 
lets you customize a va- 
riety of settings relating 
to system security, 
Internet browsing, the 
Desktop, and more. 



by Jennifer Farwell 



78 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



J. ips & Tweaks // 



Portable Windows 

Tips For Using Notebooks & Pocket PCs 




Make WAVs With Sound 
Recordings (Pocket PC) 

The Notes feature of most Pocket PC devices supports 
recording voice memos, music, or any other sound de- 
tectible by a microphone. By default, these audio files 
are stored as WAV files. Unfortunately, synching 
audio notes with Microsoft Outlook results in the files 
being converted to a proprietary format on the PC, 
rendering the audio files unusable 
to other audio applications. If re- 
taining the audible memos as sound 
files is your goal, dock the Pocket 
PC and copy the files from the de- 
vice to a location on your PC using 
Windows Explorer. 



To play music on your Pocket PC, 
drag your audio files to your PC's 
Desktop and use Windows Media 
Player to copy them. 



Better Audio Through 
Settings (Pocket PC) 

Improve the quality of Notes 
recordings by choosing the appro- 
priate microphone sensitivity. De- 
pending on your version of 
Windows Mobile (2002 or 2003), your directions will 
be different. Choose Start and Settings, tap the System 
tab, and then tap Audio (or Microphone in 2003). By 
default, the microphone is set to Normal (or 
Conference: Near Range Recording). For voice 
recording where you talk directly into the device, 
switch to Short Range Recording (or Interview: Close 
Range Recording). Conference Recording is ideal for 
recording a group of people or picking up audio from 
someone talking at a podium. Tap OK to apply your 
changes. 

File Access Frustration (Pocket PC) 

Simply copying Word and Excel documents from 
your hard drive to a flash card doesn't guarantee 
you access to the files from a Pocket PC. Portable 
applications look for files in a folder named My 
Documents. Every Pocket PC has a My Documents 
folder as part of the device file system. Pocket Office 
applications don't offer the option to create new 
folders from the Save Document As menu option. 
Create a new folder by tapping Start, Programs, and 
File Explorer and choosing New Folder from the 
Edit menu. Avoid adding further subfolders beyond 




one layer deep, as the applications will not recog- 
nize them. For file organization, go one layer deep 
and create subfolders within My Documents, such 
as MY DOCUMENTSXWord Docs or MY DOCU- 
MENTSXClient Name. 

Windows Media Madness 
(Windows XP/Pocket PC) 

Windows Media Player for Pocket 
PC does not play back WAV files. 
In fact, WMP for Pocket PC won't 
play anything but WMA (Windows 
Media Audio) and WMV (Win- 
dows Media Video) files. However, 
you can get around this problem. 
Find the file on your PC by using 
Windows Explorer, drag the WAV 
file to the Desktop, and open the 
file in Windows Media Player. 
Choose Copy To CD Or Device 
from the left menu, select the 
Pocket PC and a location where 
you'd like to copy the file, and click Copy. You can 
then access these files by tapping Playlist in WMP. 

Free Up Memory (Pocket PC) 

Closing Pocket PC apps by clicking the X in the corner 
doesn't actually shut them down. Too many open 
apps can tie up all available program memory on 
your Pocket PC. To truly shut down an application, 
open the Memory setting (under the System tab), click 
the Running Programs list, select a program, and tap 
Stop. (Tap Stop All to shut down all the programs, but 
beware that this also includes programs such as 
ActiveSync and File Explorer.) You can also stop the 
active program if you select it, expand the on-screen 
keyboard, tap the virtual CTRL key, and then tap the 
virtual Q key. 

A Case Of The Capital Letters (Pocket PC) 

If you tap the SHIFT key on the virtual keyboard to 
make a letter capital, you add an extra movement 
for each letter. Instead of shifting, tap and hold the 
letter you want capped and slide the stylus toward 
the top of the screen. This feature works with any 
Pocket PC application supporting text entry. 



PC Today / August 2004 79 




1 ips & Tweaks 



" : -v:- -'.-J--' -; Hint 



^Settings 



When Smaller Is Better 
(WinXP/Pocket PC) 

Windows Media Player for Pocket PC 
supports playback of WMV files. To 
conserve space and convert files to a 
format more suited for portable play- 
back, open the video file in Windows 
Movie Maker. From the File menu, 
choose Save Movie File. Select My 
Computer and click Next. Name the 
output file and click Next. On the 
Movie Setting page, click the Show 
More Choices hyperlink, click the radio 
button next to Other Settings, choose 
Video For Pocket PC (Full Screen 

218Kbps) from the drop-down menu, 

and click Next to start saving. The 

video is saved at 320 x 240 resolution, reducing the file 

size by 85%. 

Forget What Your Mother Taught 
You About Sharing (WinXP) 

Traveling with a notebook computer is both a conve- 
nience and a curse. Any open net- 
work shares on your notebook also 
travel with you. In most cases, other 
travelers are far too busy with their 
own lives to know your My Doc- 
uments folder is wide open to the 
world, but it only takes once to have 
pictures of the kids or a multimillion 
dollar contract fall into the wrong 
hands. Before you leave home, turn 
off all sharing on your system. It 
won't keep everyone out, but it 
helps keep people honest. 



;*^3:13 © 



\*/\ Prompt if device unused |l hour 
for ' 

(g) Simple 4 digit password 

Q Strong alphanumeric password 

Password: 1234 



button next to either Simple 4 Digit 
Password or Strong Alphanumeric 
Password. In most cases, a simple 
four-digit pin, such as the one you use 
with your ATM card, will keep the ca- 
sual criminal at bay. For stronger pro- 
tection, use a combination of numbers, 
letters, and special characters to create 
something more challenging. Tap the 
ENTR key to set the password. 



Choose a four-digit password 
to protect your Pocket PC and 
tap the ENTR key to enable it. 









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.:-. 



Remember That 
Password (WinXP) 

Far too many notebook users set their computer to au- 
tomatically log in on bootup. Anyone who turns it on 
gains instant access to all files and folders on the 
system. Password-protect it instead, at least when 
you're on the road; the few seconds it takes to type in 
a password may be the difference between privacy 
and identity theft. 

Speaking Of Passwords . . . (Pocket PC) 

Setting the password for your Pocket PC is always a 
smart idea. Tap Start and Settings and tap the 
Password icon on the Personal tab. Place a check mark 
next to Prompt If Device Unused, select an amount of 
time from the drop-down menu, and click the radio 



Use the Backup And Restore Wizard 
to make copies of all of your 
important data on your notebook 
computer before you leave home. 



Back Up Before 
You Go (WinXP) 

Sometimes bad things happen to good 
notebooks. You drop the trusty 

portable while trying to insert it back 

in its case after clearing the airport se- 
curity checkpoint. Next time you boot up, the hard 
drive makes a horrid grinding sound and the screen 
goes black. Prepare for catastrophic data loss by 
backing up your data before you leave home. WinXP 
includes a tool for backing up data to recordable 
CDs, DVDs, or external hard drives. To access it, click 

Start, All Programs, Accessories, 
System Tools, and Back-up. The 
Backup Or Restore Wizard will 
walk you through the steps to keep 
your data safe. 

I Make The Wireless 
Connection (Pocket PC) 

Many wireless connections require a 
MAC (message authentication code) 
before a device can connect to the 
network. This requires a network 
admin to enter the MAC address of 
your Pocket PC into the wireless 

router's database of accepted de- 
vices. Most wireless routing devices make the ac- 
cepted devices list available via the administration 
Web interface under the heading MAC Filters. Finding 
the MAC address for a particular Pocket PC varies by 
device manufacturer. For HP devices, tap Start, 
Settings, and Asset Viewer. Expand Wireless LAN 
(local-area network), and MAC address appears at the 
bottom of the list. Toshiba locates this information in 
their Wireless LAN utility. ViewSonic and Dell locate 
network card information on the Properties page for 
the adapter, located at Start, Settings, Connections, and 
Network Adapters. 

by Jake Ludington 



80 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 




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reviews & Reviews 



Hardware Previews 



A Look At New & Upcoming Arrivals 



by Carmen Carmack 



If you are looking for new storage solutions 
or the latest in notebook computers, this 
month's edition offers a number of inter- 
esting options. We also feature new printers, 
a server designed for small businesses, two 
new Palm Zire PDAs, and a number of other 
fun new products. 



Antec Aria Computer Case 



Antec, a computer case and compo- 
nent maker, recently introduced 
the Antec Aria Case to its LifeStyle se- 
ries of products. The case provides the 
infrastructure for a custom system. You 
build the system by adding the mother- 
board, hard drives, optical drives, ex- 
pansion cards, and other components 
that meet your computing needs. 

Unlike most cube-style cases, the Aria 
comes with four full-sized PCI (Periph- 
eral Component Interconnect) expan- 
sion card slots and the ability to accept a 
microATX motherboard. It includes one 
external 5.25-inch drive bay, three in- 
ternal 3.5-inch drive bays, a flip-up 



drive cage, and removable side panels 
for convenient access to the internal 
drive cage and components. To assist 
with noise absorption, the case's side 
panels use a multilayer design. 

Measuring 7.9 x 10.6 x 13.2 inches 
(HxWxD) and weighing 10 pounds, the 
Aria's cube shape is compact and 
portable. For power and cooling, the 
Aria uses a 300-watt power supply 
and a low-speed 120mm fan. The 
power supply features a universal 
input that accepts line voltages from 
100V to 240V AC. In addition to the fan 
for cooling, Antec adds a PCI slot- 
mounted 80mm blower. 



The Aria's exterior has a silver and 
black finish, illuminated by blue LEDs 
(light-emitting diodes). Built-in ports and 
connections on the front include two USB 
(Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 ports, two audio 
jacks, and a FireWire port. • 




Aria Computer Case 

$129 

Antec 

(800) 222-6832; (510) 770-1200 

www.antec-inc.com 



Brother DCP-8040 



Brother positions its new DCP-8040 
copier and printer as a solution for 
busy offices and time-pressed profes- 
sionals. The unit features digital copying, 
laser printing, and color scanning in a 
form factor that fits on a desktop, poten- 
tially saving trips to the copy room or to 
a commercial copy center. 

For copying, the DCP-8040 features a 
50-page ADF (automatic document 
feeder) and a maximum 
copy speed of 21 




DCP-8040 

$399.99 

Brother 

(800) 276-7746 

www.brother.com 



copies per minute. Its legal-size docu- 
ment glass handles books and magazines. 
For reductions and enlargements, the 
DCP-8040 can adjust the document size 
from 25% to 400% in 1% increments. It 
prints as many as 99 copies at one time, 
and the maximum copy resolution is 
600dpi. If you need scanning capabilities, 
the DCP-8040 also serves as a flatbed 
color scanner with an optical resolution 
of 600x2,400 dpi. 

The DCP-8040 connects to your PC 
with USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 or 
parallel ports (cable not included). An 
Ethernet network card ($199) is optional. 
As a laser printer, the DCP-8040 has a 
maximum print speed of 21ppm and 
a maximum print resolution of 2,400 x 
600 dpi. It emulates multiple printer 



languages, including PCL (Printer 
Control Language) 6 and BR-Script 3 (a 
PostScript Level 3 equivalent). Standard 
printer memory is 32MB, which is ex- 
pandable to 160MB. 

For paper handling, the DCP-8040 
comes with a 250-page paper tray that ac- 
commodates letter or legal-sized paper, 
and it has a single-sheet manual bypass 
for envelopes and other media such as la- 
bels and cardstock. You can purchase an 
additional 250-sheet paper tray for $199. 

The unit measures 18.8 x 21.3 x 17.8 
inches (HxWxD) and weighs 36.6 
pounds. The standard toner cartridge 
($65) yields a maximum of 3,500 pages at 
5% coverage, and you can purchase a 
high-yield cartridge ($89) that produces 
6,700 pages. If you need automatic du- 
plex capability, Brother offers the DCP- 
8045D ($499.99). This duplex version of 
the DCP-8040 also includes a 50-page 
multipurpose paper tray. • 



82 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



reviews & Reviews 




Gateway 9115 



The Gateway 9115 series server is an 
entry-level rack-mountable server 
housed in a slim chassis. With its 1U form 
factor, the 9115 occupies a single space 
when mounted in a standard 19-inch rack. 
Despite its entry-level position, the server 
includes advanced features, including 
dual-port SATA (Serial Advanced Tech- 
nology Attachment) controller, integrated 
RAID (redundant array of independent 
disks) 0/1, and room for optional SCSI 
(Small Computer System Interface) drives. 




9115 

$899 

Gateway 

(888) 888-0494 

www.gateway.com 



The server's standard configuration in- 
cludes a 2.6GHz Intel Celeron Processor 
with 128KB L2 cache. It has 1GB of 
SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) 
consisting of two 512MB modules, an 
80GB SATA hard drive, an integrated 
8MB PCI (Peripheral Component Inter- 
connect) graphics card, a Gigabit Ethernet 
port, and a 10/100 Ethernet port. 
Additional ports include three USB 
(Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 ports, a VGA 
(Video Graphics Array) port, and a DB9 
serial port. The unit runs off a single 250- 
watt power supply. 

The 9115 server's base price of $899 
does not include OS software. Gateway 
offers numerous editions of Windows 
Server 2003 and Windows Small 
Business Server 2003 ranging in price 
from $369 to $3,295. You can also 
purchase Symantec Antivirus Small 
Business software, and Gateway's 
System Manager 3.0 software is in- 
cluded. The Gateway software provides 



server management features such 
as remote access, system alerts, and 
event logging. 

To handle as much as 4GB of 400MHz 
DDR (double-data rate) ECC (Error- 
Correcting Code) memory, the server 
comes with four DIMM (dual in-line 
memory module) memory slots. There are 
two hard drive expansion bays, a 1.44MB 
floppy diskette drive, and a 24X CD-ROM 
drive. As with most 1U chassis servers, 
the 9115 has only one PCI expansion slot 
for additional PCI components. 

Additional options and upgrades in- 
clude a 2.8GHz or 3.2GHz Intel Pentium 4 
Processor, a 56Kbps (kilobits per second) 
PCI modem, and an additional Gigabit 
Ethernet PCI card. With capacities of 
80GB, 160GB, or 250GB, you can also add 
a second or larger SATA hard drive for in- 
creased storage. 

Gateway includes a standard 104-key 
keyboard, a PS/2 mouse, and a mouse 
pad with the 9115 server. The server also 
comes with a one-year onsite, next-busi- 
ness-day warranty and 24/7 support. For 
$149 you can upgrade to a three-year war- 
ranty and three years of support. • 



IBM ThinkPad T42 & T42p 



IBM's new ThinkPad T42 and T42p 
notebooks offer an optional 15-inch dis- 
play — a first for the ThinkPad T product 
line. The new models offer a number of 
other optional features, including 802.11 
a/b/g wireless connectivity and the new 
Pentium M 735, 745, or 755 processor. 

The T42 comes with your choice of a 
14.1-inch or a 15-inch display. For the 
hard drive, you can choose capacities of 
30GB, 40GB, or 80GB. Memory options 
include 256MB, 512 MB, or 1GB, and 
memory is expandable to as much as 
2GB. For an optical drive, the T42 offers 
a CD-RW/DVD drive, an 8X DVD drive, 
or a multiburner DVD-R drive. The 
T42's 6-cell lithium-ion battery powers 
the notebook for as many as five hours. 
The 15-inch model measures 10.6 x 13 x 
1.4 inches (HxWxD) and weighs 5.7 
pounds with an optical drive. 



The higher-end T42p also offers a 
14.1-inch or a 15-inch display. It has a 
60GB hard drive and memory options of 
512MB or 1GB, expandable to 2GB. For 
an optical drive, you can select a CD- 
RW /DVD combo drive or a multiburner 
DVD-R drive. The T42p includes a 9-cell 
lithium-ion battery that provides a max- 
imum of 5.7 hours or power. The 15-inch 
model measures 10.6 x 13 x 1.4 inches 
(HxWxD) and weighs 5.9 pounds with 
an optical drive. 

All models come standard with 
Windows XP Professional Edition. For 
ports and connections, IBM includes two 
USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 ports, an S- 
Video (Super- Video) out port, an Infrared 
port, a dock/port replicator, an external 
display connector, an internal modem, 
two Type II or one Type III PC card slots, 
and a Gigabit Ethernet connection. The 



T42p also comes standard with a wireless 
Bluetooth connection, which is optional 
on the T42. For audio, both models have 
an external microphone jack and a head- 
phone/line-out jack. 

IBM backs the T42 and T42p note- 
books with a three-year hardware war- 
ranty and a one-year battery warranty. 
The company also offers the IBM Rescue 
And Recovery With Rapid Restore soft- 
ware for diagnosing system issues. 



ThinkPad 
T42andT42p 

$1599 (T42); 

$3409 (T42p) 

IBM 
(800) 426-4968 
www.ibm.com 




PC Today / August 2004 83 




reviews & Reviews 



Iomega Floppy Plus 
7-In-l Card Reader 



A convenient solution for consumers 
who need an external floppy drive 
and multiple media card reader, 
Iomega's new Floppy Plus 7-in-l Card 
Reader is compact and portable. The 
device weighs 12 ounces and measures 
1 x 4.25 x 5.5 inches (HxWxD). Because 
your PC's USB (Universal Serial Bus) 
port powers the Floppy Plus 7-in-l 
Card Reader, the device does not re- 
quire an AC adapter or electrical outlet 
to operate. 

The device's USB 2.0 port transfers 
data at the standard rate of 12Mbps 
(megabits per second), and it is also 
compatible with the USB 1.1 standard. 
The exterior of the device is a two-tone 
silver and gray. It features a green LED 
(light-emitting diode) to indicate floppy 



diskette drive activity and an amber 
LED to signal card-reader activity. 

The unit's two front-loading media 
slots accept a variety of card types. The 
slot on the left side is compatible with 
Microdrive and CF (Compact Flash) 
Type I and II media. The slot on the 
right side of the reader accepts SM 
(Smart Media), Memory Stick, Memory 
Stick Pro, MMC (MultiMedia Card), and 
SD (Secure Digital) media. The larger 
third slot, which is located below the 
dual media slots, is for floppy disks. 

System requirements for the Floppy 
Plus 7-in-l Card Reader include a 
Pentium II or III processor (or equivalent), 
256MB of memory, a USB 1.1 or USB 2.0 
connection, Windows 98/2000/Me/ 
XP, and a CD-ROM drive for software 



installation. Because the card reader is 
hot-swappable, you can connect it directly 
to your PC or notebook without shutting 
down your system or rebooting. 

The unit's software bundle includes 
Adobe Photoshop Album SE for man- 
aging digital photos. Iomega ships 
the drive with a USB 2.0 cable, a 
Quick Start Guide, and software on CD 
and backs the device with a one-year 
warranty. • 




Floppy Plus 7-ln-1 Card Reader 

$59.95 

Iomega 

(888) 446-6342 

www.iomega.com 



Iomega REV Drive 



With its new REV drive product 
line, Iomega hopes to provide a 
solution for systems that would other- 
wise use a tape backup method. Ac- 
cording to Iomega, REV drives offer 
much faster transfer times, are easier to 
use, and cost less compared to tape 
drives. The REV drives also offer the 




REV Drive 

$379 (internal); $399 (external) 

Iomega 

(888) 446-6342 

www.iomega.com 



advantages of random access to data 
and drag-and-drop file transfer. 

The REV drive comes in an external 
USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 version and 
an internal ATAPI (Advanced Tech- 
nology Attachment Packet Interface) ver- 
sion. For storage, Iomega has introduced 
removable REV disks, which have a 
capacity of 35GB each. The capacity in- 
creases to 90GB if you use 2.6:1 compres- 
sion to store data on the disk. Iomega 
prices the REV disks, which are about the 
size of a business card, at $59.99 for a 
single disk and $199.95 for a package of 
four. The disks offer an estimated shelf 
life of more than 30 years and an esti- 
mated rewrite rate of more than 1 million. 

Iomega bundles its Automatic Backup 
Pro software with the REV drives. The 
software automatically backs up specific 
files, manages multiple backups on 
different drives, and performs scheduled 
backups. The software also features 



compression, file encryption, and support 
for the Windows Server OS. Iomega also 
includes a special edition of Symantec 
Norton Ghost software for duplicating the 
contents of your system's hard drive. 

OS requirements for the REV drives in- 
clude Windows 2000 Server/Profe- 
ssional/Advanced, Windows Server 2003, 
and Windows XP Home or Professional. 
Minimum hardware requirements in- 
clude a 333MHz Pentium II processor, a 
4X CD-ROM drive, a USB 1.1 or 2.0 con- 
nection, and 100MB of hard drive space 
for software installation. The external 
drive measures 1.42 x 4.33 x 6.14 inches 
(HxWxD) and weighs about 14 ounces. 
The internal drive measures 1 x 3.99 x 5.74 
inches (HxWxD) and weighs 15 ounces. 

Both drives ship with a complemen- 
tary REV disk, software on CD, and 
documentation. The external drive adds 
a USB cable and power supply. With 
the internal drive, you also receive an 
ATAPI/IDE (Integrated Drive Elec- 
tronics) data cable and rail-mounting 
hardware. Iomega offers a one-year war- 
ranty for the REV drives and a five-year 
warranty for REV disks. 



84 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



reviews & Reviews 




iRiver iFP-800 Series Flash 
Music Players 



Designed to accompany you while 
you work out, the new 800 series of 
iFP flash MP3 players from iRiver are 
ready for active lifestyles. Small and 
lightweight, the players weigh just 1.4 
ounces (without battery), measure 1.07 x 
3.48 x 1.42 inches (HxWxD), and come 
with a sport armband. 

The iFP-800 series players include a 
line-in connector for recording audio di- 
rectly from a CD player or other digital 
source without a PC. They also have a 
1.1 USB (Universal Serial Bus) connector 
for transferring MP3 files from your PC 
to the device. The players support the 
MP3, OGG, WMA (Windows Media 
Audio), ASF (Advanced Streaming 
Format) music formats, and you can use 
them to store data and other file types. 



The included iRiver Music Manager 
software facilitates copying music and 
other files from your PC to the player. 

There are four models of the player 
with differing flash memory capacities: 
128MB (iFP-880), 256MB (iFP-890), 




iFP-800 Series Flash Music Players 

Starting at $1 29 

iRiver America 

(800) 399-1799; (408) 635-8000 

www.iriveramerica.com 



512MB (iFP-895), and 1GB (iFP-8 
Each player uses a single AA battery for 
power, which powers the device for as 
many as 40 hours. To get your music 
library started, iRiver includes preloaded 
music files from the eMusic (www 
.emusic.com) MP3 subscription service. 

In addition to recording from a dig- 
ital audio source, the players feature a 
built-in microphone for voice recording 
and an FM stereo tuner. The FM tuner 
lets you preset your favorite stations, 
and it includes an autoscan feature. 
The players can also record while in 
FM stereo mode. 

A backlit LCD (liquid-crystal display) 
helps you navigate and operate the 
players. The devices support as many as 
500 levels of folders and 1,500 music 
files. You can delete files and folders di- 
rectly from the players and create your 
own playlists. To control how files play, 
you can use the multiple repeat, shuffle, 
and 10-second intro modes. There are 
also sleep timer and alarm features. • 



Lexar Media 
JumpDrive 2.0 Pro 80X 



Digital media maker Lexar Media 
recently introduced four new 
USB (Universal Serial Bus) flash drives 
to its existing product line of Jump- 
Drive products. The JumpDrive 2.0 Pro 
80X series of drives feature a minimum 
sustained read and write speed of 
12MBps (megabytes per second) when 
connected to a USB 2.0 port on a note- 
book or desktop PC. In addition, the 
drives are backward compatible with 
USB 1.1 ports but at slower read and 
write speeds. 

Compared to its other JumpDrive 
2.0 Pro products, the new drives are 
much faster. For example, the Jump- 
Drive 2.0 Pro drive has a maximum 
sustained read speed of 6MBps and a 
maximum sustained write speed of 
4.5MBps. When transferring 200MB of 
data, the JumpDrive 2.0 Pro 80X se- 
ries takes less than 17 seconds, the 




JumpDrive 2.0 Pro 80X 

$89.99 to $349.99 

Lexar Media 

(800) 789-9418; (510) 413-1200 

www.lexarmedia.com 



JumpDrive 2.0 Pro series takes less 
than 50 seconds, and a floppy disk re- 
quires more than 3,750 seconds. 

The new JumpDrive 2.0 Pro 80X 
flash drives come in three different 
capacities and price points: 256MB 
($89.99), 512MB ($189.99), and 1GB 
($349.99). According to Lexar, the 
256MB drive is equivalent to 176 
floppy diskettes and can hold more 
than 200 high-resolution digital photos 
or four CDs' worth of MP3 music files. 

System requirements for the Jump- 
Drive 2.0 Pro 80X flash drives include 
Windows 98 SE/2000/Me/XP, Mac OS 
X, Mac OS 8.6 or higher, and a USB 1.1 
or 2.0 port (a 2.0 port is required for 
high-speed transfer). With the exception 
of Win98 SE, you do not need to install 
drivers or additional software to use the 
JumpDrive 2.0 Pro 80X drives, and you 
can use them interchangeably with dif- 
ferent OSes. 

Lexar backs the JumpDrive 2.0 Pro 
80X line with a one-year warranty. The 
company also offers telephone, email, 
and online support. 



PC Today / August 2004 85 




reviews & Reviews 



MPC Computers TransPort 
X3000 Notebook 



The MPC Computers TransPort X3000 
notebook combines the drives, ports, 
and connections needed for compati- 
bility with older systems with the newest 
security features necessary for mobile 
computing. MPC Computers designed 
the TransPort X3000 specifically to meet 
the demands of government workers. 

For compatibility with legacy systems 
and to promote ease of use, the X3000 
notebook has a separate hard drive, op- 
tical drive, and floppy drive. You can use 
all three drives at the same time, unlike 
most notebook computers on the market 
today. MPC Computers also includes a 
serial port, a parallel port, two Type II 
PCMCIA (Personal Computer Memory 
Card International Association) slots, and 
two USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 ports. 



Security features include a built-in finger- 
print scanner, an integrated smart card 
reader, and a removable hard drive. 

The TransPort X3000 features a Gigabit 
Ethernet connection, wireless 802.11b/g 
connectivity, and an internal modem. The 
base model has a 14.1-inch XGA (Ex- 
tended Graphics Array) display, an Intel 
Pentium M 1.5GHz processor running 
Windows XP Professional edition, 128MB 
of memory, a 20GB hard drive, a 64MB 
ATI MOBILITY RADEON 9700 graphics 
card, a 20X CD-ROM drive, and an op- 
tical mini mouse. 

Upgrade options include a 6-in-l 
media reader, a combo CD/DVD or 
DVD+RW drive, as much as 2GB of 
memory, a 40/60/80GB hard drive, an 
128MB ATI MOBILITY RADEON 9700 




TransPort X3000 Notebook 

$2,000 

MPC Computers 

(888) 224-4247; (208) 893-3434 

www.mpccorp.com 

Image courtesy of MPC Computers 

graphics card, and a 15-inch SXGA+ 
(Super Extended Graphics Array). 

The TransPort X3000 ships with a 9-cell 
lithium-ion battery that powers the note- 
book for approximately four hours. MPC 
Computers' standard service and support 
includes three years of repair and replace- 
ment service. 



palmOne Zire 



PalmOne's new Zire 31 and Zire 72 
handhelds are designed to meet 
your PDA and multimedia needs. Both 
models come with a color screen, MP3 
file support, and photo display capa- 
bility. The Zire 72 adds more multimedia 
features with a built-in digital camera 
and support for audio/video capture. 
The new handhelds run Palm OS v5.2.8 
and come with a rechargeable battery. 

The Zire 31 is a value-priced hand- 
held that features a 200MHz Intel 
processor and an SDIO (Secure Digital 




Input/Output) expansion slot. It comes 
with 16MB of total memory, with 14MB 
available for storage. Small and light- 
weight, the Zire 31 has a screen size of 
160 x 160 pixels, overall dimensions of 
4.4 x 2.9 x 0.6 inches (HxWxD), and a 
weight of 4.1 ounces. Ports and connec- 
tors include a 3.5mm stereo headphone 
jack, an IR (infrared) port, and a mini- 
USB (Universal Serial Bus) HotSync 
port. The SDIO expansion slot is com- 
patible with MMC (MultiMedia Card), 
SD (Secure Digital), and SDIO cards. 



Zire 

$149 (Zire 31); $299 (Zire 72) 

palmOne 

(800) 881-7256; (408) 503-7000 

www.palmone.com 




The Zire 72 features an integrated 
1.2MP (megapixel) camera. The camera 
uses a CMOS (complementary metal- 
oxide semiconductor) sensor and has 2X 
digital zoom. It can capture video clips 
at 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 resolution at a 
maximum rate of 15fps (frames per 
second). With its larger 320 x 320 screen 
and additional features, the Zire 72 
weighs in at 4.8 ounces and measures 4.6 
x 2.95 x 0.67 inches (HxWxD). Ports and 
connectors for the Zire 72 include a 
Bluetooth wireless port, a 3.5mm stereo 
headphone jack, an IR port, a mini-USB 
port, and an SDIO expansion slot. 

In addition to the Palm Desktop, bun- 
dled software for the Zire 31 and Zire 72 
include an Organizer Suite that syncs to 
Microsoft Outlook, Data Viz Documents 
To Go, Palm Reader for eBooks, and 
Graffiti 2 writing software. The Zire 72 
also adds Adobe Acrobat Reader. 

The handhelds ship with a power 
adapter, HotSync cable, and soft- 
ware on CD. The Zire 31 comes with a 
90-day warranty and 90 days of tele- 
phone support, and the Zire 72 has a 
one-year warranty and 90 days of tele- 
phone support. 



86 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 






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reviews & Reviews 



Samsung CLP-550 & CLP-550N 



With the new CLP-550 and CLP- 
550N models, Samsung is beefing 
up its line of color laser printers. Like 
their predecessor, the CLP-500, these new 
models feature automatic duplex capa- 
bility. However, the new models add 
wired and wireless networking options to 
the product line. 

For wired networking, the CLP-550 has 
an optional 10/100 Ethernet interface, and 
the CLP-550N comes with the Ethernet in- 
terface preinstalled. In addition, both 
models feature an optional wireless 
802.11b LAN (local-area network) inter- 
face for wireless printing. Samsung 
includes a parallel port and a USB 
(Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 port for con- 
necting the printers directly to a PC. 

Both printers have a maximum color 
print speed of 5ppm and a maximum 
black-and-white print speed of 21ppm. 



Maximum resolution is 1,200dpi, and the 
printers feature PostScript 3 and PCL-5Ce 
(Printer Control Language-5Ce) printer 
emulation. The time to print the first page 
is 24 seconds for color documents and 15 
seconds for monochrome documents. The 
CLP-550 comes with 64MB of memory 




CLP-550 & CLP-550N 

$799 (CLP-550); $899 (CLP-550N) 

Samsung 

(800) 726-7864; (201) 229-4000 

www.samsungusa.com 



standard and a maximum memory ca- 
pacity of 320MB. The CLP-550N has 
128MB of memory standard, with a 
384MB maximum. 

For paper input, the printers have a 
250-sheet cassette tray and a 100-sheet 
multipurpose tray. For additional paper 
capacity, you can purchase a 500-sheet 
cassette tray. The paper output tray has a 
250-sheet capacity. 

Consumables include black toner 
with a capacity of 7,000 pages at 5% 
coverage and CMY (Cyan/Magenta/ 
Yellow) color toner with a capacity of 
5,000 pages at 5% coverage. Samsung 
ships the printers with starter versions 
of the black toner and color toner, with 
capacities of 2,000 pages and 1,500 
pages, respectively. 

The printers measure 15.9 x 20.1 x 
18.5 inches (HxWxD) and weigh 77.2 
pounds with the toner and drum in- 
stalled. Samsung offers a one-year on- 
site service warranty for the CLP-550 
and CLP-550N printers. 



Sony ProData 



With a per-disc capacity of nearly 
33 CDs, Sony designed its new 
ProData Drives for high-storage de- 
mand applications such as document 
and medical imaging, email archiving, 
multimedia and graphic design pro- 
jects, and audio/video editing. The 
drives use blue laser technology to 
read and write data to specially de- 
signed Sony optical discs. 

The ProData drives come in three 
models: an internal SCSI (Small Com- 
puter System Interface) drive, an ex- 
ternal SCSI drive, and an external USB 
(Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 drive. The in- 
ternal SCSI model measures 1.62 x 5.74 
x 7.99 inches (HxWxD) and weighs 2.6 
pounds. The external models measure 
2.28 x 7.83 x 12 inches (HxWxD) and 
weigh 9.9 pounds. The drives have a 
read speed of UMBps (megabytes per 
second) and a write speed of 9MBps. To 
minimize processor usage, the drives in- 
corporate a 16MB cache. 



Priced at $45 each, Sony offers 
ProData discs in rewriteable and write- 
once options. Both types of discs hold 
as much as 23.3GB of data, and they are 
encased in a resin cartridge for protec- 
tion from dust, fingerprints, and other 
damage. ProData discs are the same 



than 50 years and support for as many 
as 10,000 rewrites. 

Sony bundles the drives with 
Software Architect's Disk Drive TuneUp 
software for disc formatting and 
DataSaver Personal Backup software to 
handle backup operations. The ProData 
drives come with a ProData rewriteable 
disc, a power supply (external models), 
software on CD, documentation, and a 
one-year warranty. • 




size as a standard DVD, but the 
ProData disc has an extremely thin ex- 
terior layer to promote recording. 
Sony's testing indicates that the discs 
have an estimated life span of more 



ProData 

$2,995 (internal); $3,299 (external) 

Sony Electronics 

(800) 352-7669; (239) 768-7676 

www.sonyburners.com 



88 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



reviews & Reviews 



Sony VAIO A Series Notebook 



VAIO A Series notebooks feature 
large 15- or 17-inch displays and 
optional AV Entertainment Docks for 
integration with other audio and 
video devices. 

The base VAIO Series A note- 
book system requires a 1.5GHz Intel 
Pentium Processor running Windows 
XP Home. It comes standard with 
256MB of memory in one slot. Ad- 
ditional memory options are avail- 
able, up to a maximum of 2GB. Other 
standard features include a 40GB 
hard drive, a 15-inch XGA (Extended 
Graphics Array) display, and a CD- 
RW/DVD drive. Upgrades include a 
larger hard drive, a 17-inch WXGA 
(Wide Extended Graphics Array) dis- 
play, and a DVD+RW drive. 

For wired connectivity, the notebook 
has a Gigabit Ethernet connection and 



an internal modem. Wireless 802.11b/g 
connectivity is optional. The notebooks 
include an i.LINK (FireWire) port, 
three USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 
ports, a Type II/Type I card slot, and a 
Memory Stick Media slot. For audio 
and video support, the notebooks come 
with built-in stereo speakers, a head- 
phone jack, an external microphone 
jack, and an A/V minijack. The 15-inch 
model measure 1.7 x 13.5 x 10.9 inches 
(HxWxD) and weighs 7.1 pounds, 
while thel7-inch model measures 1.8 x 
16 x 11 inches (HxWxD) and weighs 
8.6 pounds. 

With the VAIO Series of notebooks, 
Sony offers an optional AV Entertain- 
ment Dock ($350) for additional audio 
and video capabilities. The company 
also adds a TV tuner, personal video 
recorder, a high-end digital audio ampli- 




VAIO A Series Notebook 

$1,499 

Sony Electronics 

(866) 530-2963; (239) 768-7676 

www.sonystyle.com 

fier, and Sony speakers to the notebooks. 
In addition, the dock includes four more 
USB 2.0 ports, a monitor port, a printer 
port, an Ethernet port, a DVI (Digital 
Video Interface)-D port, and S- Video 
(Super- Video) in/out ports. 



Tripp Lite INTERNET350U 
UPS System 



A low-profile UPS (uninterruptible 
power supply) device, Tripp Lite's 
INTERNET350U UPS System protects 
your system from blackouts, brownouts, 
and power surges. The compact unit 
accommodates AC electrical lines 
and dataline connections, and its typical 




INTERNET350U UPS System 

$39.99 

(773)869-1111 

www.tripplite.com 



applications include home office 
PCs, network workstations, and audio/ 
video equipment. 

The INTERNET350U offers eight 
widely spaced outlets. Four of the out- 
lets include battery support to tem- 
porarily keep systems running during a 
power outage. With an entry-level PC 
system, the battery backup can provide 
power for a maximum of 15 minutes 
during a blackout. The remaining four 
outlets include surge suppression for 
devices that do not require battery sup- 
port, such as printers. 

To protect modems, fax machines, or 
cordless phones that share a phone line 
connection, the INTERNET350U comes 
with a single line TEL/DSL (tele- 
phone/Digital Subscriber Line) connec- 
tion with a line splitter. The line protects 
two connected devices from power 
surges. The UPS measures 4 x 12 x 7 



inches (HxWxD) and weighs 10.7 
pounds. For wall-mount support, the 
case includes mounting flanges. 

The battery has a typical lifespan of 
three to six years, and the device features 
an access door so you can replace the bat- 
tery yourself. The unit switches to battery 
power if the line voltage decreases to 98 
volts or less. At high voltages, the unit 
switches to battery power if the line 
voltage increases to 103 volts or higher. 
An alarm beeps to alert you when the bat- 
tery backup is in use. 

For surge suppression, the INTER- 
NET350U has an instantaneous response 
time. The unit's surge suppression rating 
is 1170 joules, and it is UL 1778 certified. 
For additional protection, Tripp Lite in- 
cludes its PowerAlert softwarethat lets 
you monitor the unit's power status and 
enables unattended system shutdown. 

The INTERNET350U system comes 
with a USB (Universal Serial Bus) cable 
to connect to a PC for unattended shut- 
downs, a telephone cable, software 
on CD, and a users manual. Tripp 
Lite backs the device with a two- 
year warranty. • 



PC Today / August 2004 89 




reviews & Reviews 



Financial 
Solutions 

A Comparison Of Intuit Quicken 2004 Premier & 
Microsoft Money 2004 Premium 



In a complicated world where you are 
likely to have multiple bank accounts, 
credit accounts, investments, and pos- 
sibly income sources, it can be difficult 
to keep track of your personal finances. 
When tax time rolls around, or when 
you need to evaluate your budget allo- 
cations or investment performance, 
you may find yourself awash in a sea of 
receipts, account statements, and other 
necessary documents. 

To help consumers track their fi- 
nances, software companies develop 
specialized programs that can perform 
this arduous task. Originally, financial 
software offered basic expense tracking, 
bank statement reconciling, and little 
more. However, as competition has 
grown more intense, developers have 
added an array of features to their soft- 
ware offerings. Now, the two industry- 
leading programs, Intuit Quicken and 
Microsoft Money, can pay your bills, 
update your bank account data auto- 
matically, track stock portfolios, and 
make recommendations about asset allo- 
cation, helping you budget for major 
purchases, and more. 

If you're ready to start keeping tabs on 
your financial picture, or if you are cur- 
rently using an older financial software 
package but thinking of upgrading, you 
should take a close look at Intuit Quicken 
and Microsoft Money to see which is 
right for you. In this article we'll compare 
them side-by-side to help you do just 
that. Both programs come in several ver- 
sions. Here, we'll evaluate the top-of- 
the-line consumer models, Quicken 2004 
Premier and Money 2004 Premium, 
because each offers a lot of bang for a rea- 
sonable number of bucks. However, in 
case you do not need the comprehensive 



tracking capabilities these souped-up 
models provide, we have also included 
information on the Standard and Deluxe 
versions of each product. 

Intuit Quicken 2004 Premier 

With more than 20 years of produc- 
tion under its belt, Quicken has a small 
army of fans, many of which have been 
using the software for years. Interest- 
ingly enough, some of these fans com- 
plain that instead of being the latest, 
greatest version of Quicken, the 2004 
edition is not worth the upgrade. 
Among the users we queried and the 
comments we found posted online, 
overall satisfaction with this product 
was lower than with previous versions 
of Quicken or with Money 2004. 

We did not test Quicken 2004 against 
Quicken 2003, so we cannot confirm or 
deny this assertion. We found Quicken 
to be more user friendly and intuitive 
than Money 2004, but with odd idiosyn- 
crasies that could only be described as 
oversights. If you are a current Quicken 
2003 user, evaluate our review carefully 
before you decide whether to jump to 
the next level. 

Getting started. Installation of Quick- 
en 2004 Premier is quick and easy: It 
takes about five minutes for the Setup 
Wizard to run the installation. If you 
select the Custom option, you can cus- 
tomize the location of the program on 
the hard drive and its shortcuts on your 
Desktop and in the Programs menu. 
Quicken also asks if you are new to the 
program or an experienced hand and 
uses this information to customize the 
program for you. 

Account setup (Quicken Guided 
Setup) takes a good bit more time if you 




Quicken 2004 Premier 

$89.95 ($79.95 if ordered online) 

Intuit 

(650) 944-6000 

www.quicken.com 



Ratines 


Interface: 


MINIM 


8 


Performance: 


MINIMI 


9 


Feature set 


llllllll 


8 


Documentation: 


lllllll 


7 


OVERALL: 


llllllll 


8 



do it right; allow at least 45 minutes 
to several hours depending on how 
complex your finances are. This phase in 
Quicken takes longer than in Microsoft 
Money for good reason: Quicken asks 
for more financial detail up front. It also 
asks several helpful questions (such as 
whether you are married, a homeown- 
er, or a rental property owner), which 
allows it to customize the program on 
your behalf. And, like Microsoft Money, 
the program asks you to provide a list 
of financial goals. These goals help 
Quicken customize program operation 
for you. 

One potentially valuable timesaver is 
Quicken's ability to download account 
information during setup. When you 
create an account, Quicken will ask for 
the issuing bank name and, if it can 
locate an online resource, for your user- 
name and password. Quicken will then 
connect to the Internet and attempt to re- 
trieve the information. Quicken works 
with more than 2,000 banks, so there is a 
decent chance yours supports Quicken. 
Nevertheless, in our tests Quicken could 



90 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



reviews & Reviews 




NEW FOR 

2004 



o •> a Microsoft 

| Money2004 

Premium 



FREE 



»HOSO« 



Money 2004 Premium 

$79.95 ($59.95 with rebate through 

Dec. 31, 2004) 

Microsoft 

(425) 882-8080 

www.microsoft.com/money 



Ratines 


Interface: 
Performance: 
Feature sec 
Documentation: 
OVERALL: 


iiini 

MINIMI 
llllllll 
lllllllll 
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6 
9 
8 
9 
8 



not find a match for several major credit 
card banks that offer online information. 
Additionally, it was unable to execute a 
successful download for the matches it 
found. (It did provide a helpful phone 
number for follow-up.) If you bank or 
have credit cards from many smaller 
banks, see if they support Quicken 
before you make plans to use this feature. 

If Quicken cannot perform a down- 
load, it asks you to provide all balances 
(bank, credit card, and so on) as of your 
last statement. This makes sense if you 
will be able to download monthly up- 
dates. However, if an account does not 
offer online download to Quicken, you 
will need to manually enter all transac- 
tions since the statement to bring the 
balances up-to-date. To avoid this extra 
step, use your current balance rather 
than that of the previous statement for 
any accounts you input manually. 

Daily operations. Ongoing operation 
in Quicken is straightforward, and the 
Windows XP-style interface is easy to 



interpret. The program offers three 
main information categories: Cash Flow 
Center (ongoing income and expenses), 
Investing Center, and Property & Debt. 
Within each category you can view a 
summary of or detailed information on 
each account, run user-customizable 
reports, and execute transactions. A pane 
on the left side of the main display pro- 
vides links to the summary and detail 
displays for each group; tabbed options 
on each group's display afford access to 
reports, analyses, and other tools. 

One shortcoming puzzled us: Quick- 
en does not integrate its categories as 
well as it could, which is surprising 
given Quicken's intuitive approach. For 
example, during setup, Quicken helped 
us establish a liability account for 
our monthly mortgage. That liability 
appears in the Property & Debt category, 
where we can view a detailed picture 
of how much interest we pay, how the 
equity builds up, and other important 
data. However, Quicken did not offer 
to transfer that payment data to our 
Scheduled Transactions List, even 
though we provided the information 
Quicken would need to do so. If 
Quicken could have done this, it would 
have saved us the trouble of setting up 
the account twice. 

Another example of this lack of inte- 
gration appeared in the Budget Wizard. 
Quicken doesn't automatically pick up 
recurring income and bills that you 
have entered elsewhere in order to 
create your budget. Rather, you must 
enter the amounts and 
payees/payors all over 
again. It will scan previous 
transactions for income 
and expense data, but that 
capability is of no use if 
you are just starting out 
with the program. 

Nevertheless, Quicken 
had several helpful fea- 
tures we really liked. In the 
Property & Debt Center, 
you can create a Home 
Inventory that lists all the 
items in your home (useful 
for insurance purposes), 
as well as an Emergency 



Records file (crucial in the event of a fire, 
flood, or other catastrophic occurrence). 
When you are setting up your paycheck, 
you can set up automatic posting but ask 
Quicken to prompt you before entering. 
This feature is useful if your paycheck 
amount fluctuates and you don't want to 
have an incorrect amount entered into 
the check register. 

The Reports tool is another user- 
friendly feature, letting you customize 
your reports or make quick selections 
from the Easy Answer option. With Easy 
Answer, you enjoy one-click access to 
the most commonly used reports along 
with a brief description of each to help 
you select the right one for your needs. 

When trouble calls. One of the 
biggest drawbacks to Quicken, in our 
opinion, is its product support. Online 
assistance is available in the form of 
a Knowledge Base and limited chat ca- 
pabilities. However, if you want tele- 
phone support, plan to plunk out $1.95 a 
minute or as much as the $49.95 per-call 
maximum. (Support is free if your ques- 
tion relates to installation, registration, 
data conversion, a code patch, or a 
product defect.) Additionally, support is 
only available Monday through Friday 
between the hours of 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. 
(PST). The sole upside is that the call 
is toll-free. 

The support restrictions are unfortu- 
nate because users report several defects 
in Quicken 2004. The most prevalent 
complaint is that Quicken is prone 
to crashing during online download 




During setup, Money 2004 Premium asks for basic account 
information but doesn't offer to download it as Quicken does. 



PC Today / August 2004 91 




reviews &C Reviews 



sessions or that it does not always 
download information accurately. 
To be fair to Quicken, automatic 
online updating is a service still in 
its infancy, and a user's bank may 
be equally or even more to blame 
than Quicken for download errors. 
Nevertheless, no matter who is at 
fault, corruption of data stores 
during download is a problem we 
would all like to avoid. 

To manage this limitation, 
make frequent backups of your 
Quicken information and keep 
multiple backups because incor- 
rect information downloads are not 
always apparent immediately. (To alter 
your backup settings, select Preferences 
from the Edit menu.) As a safeguard, 
double-check downloads against your 



&*l 



statements for accuracy. (This is still 
much faster than inputting them by 
hand). You can even have Quicken per- 
form updates only in your presence if 
this helps you to track the downloads. 



Money 2004 Premium's main 
interface resembles a Web site 
portal and is equally customizable. 



Microsoft Money 2004 
Premium 

Microsoft Money has been 
around for more than a decade. 
Nevertheless, its first few editions 
were so anemic that no one took 
the product seriously. Since that 
time, however, Money has made 
bold strides — helped in part by tie- 
ins with Microsoft's MSN Money Web 
site, its news portal MSNBC, and other 
finance-related titans such as Experian 
(the credit monitoring service). With the 
release of the 2004 edition, there is no 



Which Is The Best? 



In our overall rankings, Intuit Quicken 2004 Premier and Microsoft Money 2004 Premium tied. This is 
due not to the fact that they are very similar but rather to each product's standout performance in dif- 
ferent areas. It's important to analyze these differences carefully, especially if there is no clear winner in 
terms of online support from your banks. 



Backup Intuit Quicken 2004 Premier 

Quicken lets you decide how many different backups (nine at the maximum) you want to maintain, but you 
must manually change the location before each backup. Quicken lets you back up to CD from the backup 
interface, but only after you configure your CD as a hard drive. (You can also back up to CD manually by 
burning the backup file.) 

Microsoft Money 2004 Premium 

With Microsoft, you must also change the name or location of the backup manually, but you must do so from 
the Options window (separate from the Backup interface). It also offers to back up to 1.44MB floppy diskette — 
worthless option with large data files. However, Windows XP users can back up to CD automatically (they'll be 
prompted that CD files are waiting to be written and must complete the process manually). Others must back 
up to CD manually. 

The Verdict 

Tie; neither program has as comprehensive a backup feature as we would like. 

Data Collection Intuit Quicken 2004 Premier 

Offers extensive reporting and graphing with customization. Lets you record home inventories, emergency phone 
numbers, and more. 

Microsoft Money 2004 Premium 

Extensive reporting and graphing with customization. Learning feature monitors transactions and can create new 
bills based on them. Budget Wizard can generate budgets based on past transactions and current input. (Quicken 
supports past transactions only. You must enter current data manually.) 

The Verdict 

Tie; depends on user preference. Property holders will prefer Quicken; younger budget conscious users will like 
Money's Budget Wizard. 



92 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 




reviews & Reviews 



doubt that Money is a real con- 
tender for Quicken's crown. 

Setting up Money. The setup 
process in Money is quick (less than 
10 minutes) and easy. Money does 
not require a CD Key — no fumbling 
around to find that long string of 
numbers you usually expect with a 
Microsoft installation. 

We found only one aspect of 
the installation confusing. When 
you first insert the CD, the Setup 
Wizard scans for antivirus and fire- 
wall software. If it finds any, it 
prompts you to click a link for more in- 
formation. Unfortunately, that link 
doesn't provide any useful information. 
It only gives details on errors unrelated 
to the problem at hand. Do yourself a 
favor and turn off your antivirus and 



.mmnmamm 


Money 2004 Premium can generate 
a budget for you based on income 
and expense information you 




p _ __ hi|m1 _ ^ ^ jh1 ., - — 






provided during setup. 


• ! Ssr"™ Z **2 T 


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Money 2004 icon (as opposed to the 
MSN Money icon) to open Money. 
The program will prompt you to ac- 
cept the license agreement and then 
establish your accounts. 

To help you with account set- 
up, Money provides an efficient, 







firewall programs before you start the 
installation and you can avoid this 
problem entirely. 

During installation, Setup places two 
icons on your Desktop, unless you instruct 
it otherwise. Double-click the Microsoft 



helpful Setup Assistant. It took 
us 45 minutes to run through the Set- 
up Assistant and establish what we 
consider a typical setup: three bank 
accounts, eight credit cards, and stan- 
dard household expenses such as a 
mortgage, utilities, and child care. 



Interface Intuit Quicken 2004 Premier 

Interface is simple and better organized (more items grouped under a single heading). Lets you customize Tool Bar and 
Account Bar to display or hide various items. 

Microsoft Money 2004 Premium 

Interface is very extensive, but Money supports customization of main interface (Home Page) to streamline operations. 

The Verdict 

Novice users will probably prefer Quicken, but financial wizards will love Money's extensive feature set and comprehensive interface. 

Notification Intuit Quicken 2004 Premier 

Lets you set up alerts for investments, taxes, overspending, and more from a single, handy Alert interface. Includes insur- 
ance alert to remind you to check your coverage. 

Microsoft Money 2004 Premium 

Offers customizable FYI Adviser that provides alerts similar to those featured in Quicken (no insurance alert). Plus, uses 
MSN Alerts to send investment and cash flow alerts to your cell phone, email account, or Desktop. 

The Verdict 

Money wins thanks to communications edge gained with MSN Alerts. 

Security Intuit Quicken 2004 Premier 

Quicken lets you password-protect files and transactions but does not password-protect the entire program by default. 
No plan for restoring passwords that are lost or forgotten once they are set. 

Microsoft Money 2004 Premium 

Money password-protects the program, letting you use your Microsoft Passport. 

The Verdict 

Money is the winner thanks to the enhanced encryption Microsoft Passport offers. Additionally, you can reset Passport 
passwords if you lose or forget them. 

Support Intuit Quicken 2004 Premier 

Fee-based for many questions; free for installation, product flaws, and other categories. Quicken's automatic online up- 
date feature expires after one year of use, requiring customer upgrade. 

Microsoft Money 2004 Premium 

Free phone support, online updates, and remote synchronization for three years (or until Sept. 1, 2007, whichever comes first). 

The Verdict 

Advantage goes to Money for more extensive support and longer online update period. 



PC Today / August 2004 93 




reviews & Reviews 



The Setup Assistant offers to let you 
use your Microsoft Passport as your 
logon identity. This is an excellent idea 
for several reasons. With a Passport- 
based account, you gain better encryp- 
tion, access to MSN Money's Bill Pay 
feature, remote access to your accounts 
from any computer, automatic Web 
updates to your information, and finally, 
the ability to get a new password if you 
forget your existing one. (If you forget a 



standard Money password, you have to 
reinstall Money, which means you lose 
all your account information.) 

Daily operation. The main Money 
display, My Money, is well-organized 
and reasonably easy to decipher. How- 
ever, with nine different views, such 
as Portfolio, Cash Flow, and Bills & 
Deposits, the interface is more complex 
than Quicken's. The display resembles 
the landing page of many portal sites 



Tod Of The Line: Is The Product Worth The Price? 



Intuit Quicken and 
Microsoft Money come 
in multiple consumer ver- 
sions (plus small business 
editions we won't discuss 
here). Can you buy a less 
feature-rich edition, save a 
few dollars, and be just as 
happy? Depending on your 
requirements, the answer 
may be yes. 

Microsoft Money 

Money has Standard 
($29.95), Deluxe ($59.95), 
and Premium ($79.95) edi- 
tions, all of which perform 
basic balancing, online up- 
dating (with a supported ac- 
count), and spending 
analysis. The Deluxe and 
Premium editions let you 
track investments, minimize 
and track tax liability, and 
perform long-term financial 
planning (including retire- 
ment or purchase planning). 
Each version also includes 
a variety of free services, 
which is where the real ben- 
efit of the Premium edition 
becomes evident. 

With the Deluxe version, 
Microsoft provides more 
than $170 in free services, 
including a year of MSN Bill 
Pay, tax filing through H&R 
Block, a year of credit moni- 
toring from Experian, and a 



personal financial consul- 
tation with an American 
Express planner. The 
Premium edition includes 
a year's subscription to 
GainsKeeper (a $50 value), 
an investment optimization 
service that helps you opti- 
mize your investments and 
minimize your tax liabilities. 
In addition, the Premium 
edition gives you an extra 
year of MSN Bill Pay (a value 
of more than $70). Even 
more importantly for users 
who hate to upgrade their 
software, with Premium you 
gain an extra year of online 
support, as well as third- 
party online bill pay, auto- 
mated transaction and 
stock quote download, and 
synchronization through 
MSN Money Plus or MSN 
Money for remote or hand- 
held access. 

If you just want help bal- 
ancing your accounts or set- 
ting a budget, then stick 
with Money's Standard edi- 
tion. (Money Standard is 
the least expensive option 
all around for basic financial 
tracking.) If you plan to 
start investing or making 
long-term plans, Money 
Deluxe is the minimum 
amount of support you 
should purchase. However, 



given that the Premium edi- 
tion offers an extra $120 in 
services in addition to an 
extra year of online support, 
for just $20 additional, we 
cannot imagine why anyone 
interested in Money Deluxe 
would not step up to the 
Premium edition. 

Intuit Quicken 

Quicken does not offer a 
Standard edition; the basic 
offering is Quicken 2004 
Deluxe ($59.95). At $89.95, 
Quicken 2004 Premier is 
the top-of-the-line offering. 
The choice between the 
two is simple: Premier 
helps optimize your invest- 
ments and minimize your 
capital gains outlay and 
Deluxe does not. 

If you are not an in- 
vestor, have your assets 
permanently allocated in 
long-term holdings, oral- 
ready pay for the services 
of an investment planner, 
then you probably will 
not need Quicken 2004 
Premier. Nevertheless, if 
you are interested in the 
stock market and want 
to learn about market 
dynamics for future appli- 
cations, you'll appreciate 
the power you gain with 
Quicken 2004 Premier. I 



(including MSN), with options orga- 
nized in neat columns and numerous 
logically named buttons and menus 
arrayed across the top of the screen. 

The buttons correspond with the dif- 
ferent views Money offers. If there is 
more than one available view for a partic- 
ular button, clicking a button transports 
you to the list of view options. A pane on 
the left side of the display provides a 
helpful task list that changes depending 
on the button you select. Click the 
Portfolio button, for example, and the 
task list will include options such as 
Add An Investment and Analyze My 
Portfolio. Click the Cash Flow button 
and the task list will change to such 
options as Try Cash Flow Scenarios 
and Review Budget. 

Money's tools are myriad. The pro- 
gram gives you quick access to stock 
quotes, news, tax analysis tools, and 
other helpers. Unfortunately, with 
some of Money's tools, Microsoft 
stopped just short of providing a total 
solution. For example, the Purchase 
Wizard will tell you how much you 
need to save, each month, to make a 
purchase by a certain date. It will 
remind you not to forget the interest 
you will earn while you are saving, 
but it won't calculate that interest into 
the savings plan. 

Another example is the 401(k) 
Manager. Even though consumers 
can, and frequently do, take out loans 
against their 401 (k)s, and Microsoft 
even recommends a 401(k) loan as 
a useful way to borrow money, the 
401(k) Manager provides no way to 
record such a loan. 

These shortcomings are really just 
minor annoyances. Once you find your 
way around the program and accept 
its limitations, Money can be a very 
powerful tool. An added bonus with 
Money is the array of free services (a 
value of more than $350) you can use. 
With the purchase of Money Premium 
2004, you enjoy a year of free credit 
monitoring through Experian, two 
years of MSN Bill Pay, free online tax 
filing with H&R Block, and a year of 
free access to GainsKeeper (a portfolio 
optimization service). To sign up for 



94 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 




reviews & Reviews 



these bonuses, select Services Center from 
the Services menu rather than clicking the 
ads that appear on-screen, which may 
take you to sign-up windows that do not 
reflect the free offers. 

When trouble arises. Some Money 
users have reported a few serious flaws 
beyond the petty problems we mention 
above. We did not experience any of 
them during our tests, but that does not 
necessarily mean Microsoft has elimi- 
nated them. All these problems, should 
you experience them, are manageable if 
you use care. 

First, users report that Money some- 
times posts automatic payments and de- 
posits to the wrong accounts. To be safe, 
we recommend you periodically check to 
ensure Money is assigning your debits 
and credits accurately. Users have also 
reported that Money does not always 
transfer year-end data accurately to the 
next year. When you close out the year, 
look over your data carefully. Even more 
dangerous is Money's tendency to crash. 
Some advanced users experienced 
crashes as often as once a week, and their 
data file sometimes became corrupted. 

For this reason, it's important to use 
Money's automatic backup feature. It's a 



If you get into a jam, Microsoft 
offers extensive online assistance 
and support (visit the Microsoft 
Money 2004 Community page at 
www.microsoft.com/money 
/community), one year of unlim- 
ited Web-based email support, 
and a year of unlimited online 
phone support. Unfortunately, 
the (425) 637-9308 phone number 
is not toll-free, so you can rack 
up a hefty phone bill if the sup- 
port session is lengthy. If you 
think the problem will require 
extensive assistance, you can 
use the (800) 936-5700 toll-free 
support line at a charge of $35 
per incident. 




i. Woteano 

'J. J>b0JtYIXI 



What do you want to get out of Quicken? 




Quicken 2004 Premier and Money 2004 Premium 
let you establish financial goals and then customize 
program operation based on those goals. Quicken's 
goals interface is seen here. 



F 



Quicken 2004 Premier's main interface is simpler 
than Money 2004 Premium's and resembles a task 
management program rather than a Web site. 

good idea to let Money automatically 
back up the data file to the hard drive 
and to change the location every few 
sessions to ensure you have more than 
one backup. To adjust your backup set- 
tings (and make numerous other cus- 
tomizations to Money), select Options 
from the Tools menu. 



The Real Deal 

In the "Top Of The Line" 
sidebar, we outline for you 
which program performs better 
in key areas. We did not detail 
major operations, such as the 
programs' ability to track cash, 
organize investments, or plan 
for the future, because the two 
are equally powerful and com- 
prehensive in their approaches 
to major financial opera- 
tions. Instead, we at- 
tempted to zero in on 

the auxiliary features 

that might make a difference to 
some users. 

If there are a few features that 
are especially important to you, 
it may be worth deciding based 
on these features alone. How- 
ever, for many users the choice 
of which program to use will de- 
pend, not on the feature sets, but 
on which program their accounts 
support. Check with your bro- 
kerage firms, banks, lenders, and 
credit card companies to see 
which, if any, support statement down- 
loads into either file format. 

Ask, not only about automatic down- 
loads, but also about manual downloads 
(where you log on and save the informa- 
tion into an importable file). Quicken 
2004 and Money 2004 can each download 
and update your account information 



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Quicken 2004 Premier's property tools, such as Home 
Inventory and the Mortgage Calculator, will appeal to 
owners of personal and investment real estate. 



automatically, but users have reported 
problems with the performance of both 
products in this area. Manual down- 
load and subsequent importation of 
account statements is less convenient 
than automatic download but still much 
faster than manual input. It is also the 
safest method if you want to avoid file or 
data corruption. 

If you find that an equal number of 
your financial institutions support both 
programs, make your decision based on 
features. If there is a clear winner, how- 
ever, we strongly urge you to consider 
that product. With the busy lives most of 
us lead, users who find themselves sad- 
dled with large manual input sessions 
will likely soon abandon their financial 
tracking programs entirely, pct 



by Jennifer Farwell 



PC Today / August 2004 95 




reviews & Reviews 



Hexigen Software 

ActualDoc 

Professional 2.0 



ActualDoc Professional, a program 
for managing your recently ac- 
cessed documents, is one of those pro- 
grams you don't know you need, or at 
least want, until you've tried it. But once 
you've tried ActualDoc Professional, 
you'll see it's a vast improvement over 
what Windows offers. 

Access Recent Files In Windows 

If you're running Windows XP, for ex- 
ample, you may not know about its My 
Recent Documents feature because it does 
not appear in the Start menu by default. 
The My Recent Documents feature gives 



How To . . . 



Run ActualDoc In 
Secure Mode 

ActualDoc Pro can run in Usual 
Mode or Secure Mode; you 
choose the mode as soon as you 
install the program. If you choose 
Usual Mode but later want to switch, 
you can activate Secure Mode by 
clicking Options, selecting Prefer- 
ences, and clicking Security Mode. In 
Secure Mode, only users who know 
the password you pick will be able to 
see the Recent Documents list in 
ActualDoc. In addition, this setting 
will clear the recent documents list 
in the Start Menu. 

At any time you can change the 
password or disable the password- 
protection feature. To do this, click 
Options, select Preferences, click 
Security, and then type in a new 
password or deselect the Turn On 
Password Protection checkbox. I 



you fast access to the 15 most recently 
used files, including Word documents, 
graphics files, and music files. You can 
add this feature to your Start menu by 
right-clicking the menu and choosing 
Properties. Under the Start Menu tab in 
the Taskbar And Start Menu Properties 
dialog box, select the Start Menu radio 
button and click the Customize button. 
Under the Advanced tab, select the List 
My Most Recently Opened Documents 
checkbox and click OK. 

If you're using an older version of 
Windows, you're probably familiar with 
the Documents menu because it appears 
in the Start Menu by default. Like 
WinXP's My Recent Documents, the 
Documents menu gives you access to the 
files you accessed most recently. 

What A View 

Now that you're up to speed with 
how Windows handles recent docu- 
ments, we'll explain how ActualDoc Pro- 
fessional helps you handle them. 

By default, the main interface lists the 
100 most recently used files in the Recent 
Documents menu. The entry for each file 
includes its name, size, date of last use, 
type, and path. The program lists files by 
date starting with the most recent, but 
you can change this setting. 

To customize this interface, you can 
use the Date and Type filters. The Date 
filter lets you display files based on 
a chosen time parameter (such as a spe- 
cific week or month). This is a handy way 
to find a file you can't name but recall 
working on. Similarly, the Type filter 
limits the Recent Documents list to files 
of just one type. You also can use this tool 
to eliminate types of files completely 
from ActualDoc. 



You can also use the Categories tool 
to alter how files appear. This tool lets 
you view files according to headings 
such as Web Documents, Drawings and 
Images, Last Search Results, and MS 
Office Documents, among others. 

Take Action 

Now that you know there are many 
options for viewing recent files, what 
can you do with these files? 

Using the Preview tool, you can auto- 
matically view the contents of a file just 
by highlighting it. This tool is part of the 
Viewer; in fact, ActualDoc has viewers for 
text, HTML, and graphics files, and you 
can customize the tools in each of the 
viewers. Together these viewers support 
more than 40 file types, so you can add 
text, insert an item, or resize a graphic 

If you prefer to bypass the Viewer and 
open the file with the appropriate applica- 
tion, click Open or double-click the file 
name. The Explore Document command 
opens a Windows Explorer-like interface 
that lets you see where the highlighted 
file is stored in relation to other contents 
of your computer. You can also explore 
your drives and open any file you choose. 

Another key tool is the Search function. 
With it you can hunt for files by name or 
content and search files listed in Actual- 
Doc or on your drives. By default the 
search results will appear under Recent 
Documents and Last Search Results, pct 

by Rachel Derowitsch 




ActualDoc Professional 2.0 

$19.95 

Flexigen Software 

sales@flexigensoft.com 

www.flexigensoft.com 



Ratines 


Interface: 
Performance: 
Feature set: 
Documentation: 
OVERALL: 


MINIMI 

MINIM 

NIIIIMI 

Illlllll 

llllllll 


9 

8 

8.5 

8 

8 



96 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 




reviews & Reviews 



Caelo Software 
NEO3.0 





<D 

c 



Email t 
Simpliftt 




neo 



11 afflSo^' 



NEO 3.0 

$39.95; $20 for upgrade 
Caelo Software 
(604) 269-9006 
www.emai lorgan izer.com 

Spending any length of time away 
from your desk and busy inbox can 
lead to an avalanche of email. Then it 
takes you a long time to sort through your 
email and determine what's worthy of 
saving, answering, deleting, or passing 
on. Microsoft Outlook, for all its features, 
doesn't do much to assist with these tasks. 
Enter NEO (Nelson Email Organizer) 
3.0, a Microsoft Outlook add-on that takes 
the heavy lifting out of email. NEO orga- 
nizes new and old messages and makes it 
simple to search and track email. 

Come Hither Features 

NEO lets you easily search for and 
retrieve any email message, as well as 
manage your incoming email more effec- 
tively. While plain-old Outlook just plops 
new messages in your inbox for you to 



Ratines 


Interface: 
Performance: 
Feature sec 
Documentation: 
OVERALL: 


MINIM 

MINIM 

lllllllll 

lllllll 

llllllll 


9 

9 

10 

8 

9 



sort manually, NEO automatically sorts 
messages using specific criteria and 
copies messages to as many categories as 
necessary. For example, a friend sent us a 
message with a WordPerfect attachment. 
NEO simultaneously filed the message in 
the Today folder under the Date tab, in 
the WPD folder under the Attachment 
tab, and in our friend's folder under the 
Correspondent tab. 

You will notice new email messages 
first in the Active Mail folder, which is a 
nice inbox replacement. Active Mail keeps 
all new messages in a single folder until 
you decide whether to reply to them, 
remove them, or pass them on. Unlike 
Outlook, after you reply, remove, or for- 
ward a message, you don't need to file it 
away yourself. NEO handles this task. 

Tabs along the top of the NEO inter- 
face let you quickly select categories for 
viewing your messages. Using the Corre- 
spondents tab, for example, you can 
search for messages based on who sent 
the message or to whom you addressed 
the message. If a message is sent to mul- 
tiple recipients, NEO will place the mes- 
sage in the folder for each recipient. You 
will find subscriptions to your various 
mailing lists under the Bulk Mail tab. 
And you can customize the Hot tab to 
hold folders that contain messages from 
or addressed to important or frequent 
correspondents or subscriptions. 

Outlook Maneuvers 

Outlook offers more than an email 
client, including a Calendar, Journal, and 
Task Manager. Although you can access 
these other features easily using NEO, it is 
an email-centric tool, designed to enhance 
Outlook's messaging functionality only. 

NEO opens in a separate window, and 
its simple design and interface make it 
easy to maneuver. From within NEO you 
can watch email arrive in the Active Mail 



window or compose new messages as if 
you were actually using Outlook. You can 
access your Calendar, Tasks, and other 
Outlook folders from a central menu. 

Minor Flaws 

NEO doesn't work with Outlook 
Express, but then, neither does much else. 
Caelo Software only offers online support, 
so although you won't waste precious 
minutes on hold, you won't get an imme- 
diate answer to your troubles either. 

It also takes some time initially to set 
up NEO to meet your needs. You may 
have to use the program for a while. 
Learn to use NEO and you'll not only 
stay on top of your inbox, you'll discover 
email is more useful than you could 
have imagined, rcr 

by Anne Steyer Phelps 



How To 



Locate A Specific 
Email Message 

The Correspondent and 
Attachment tabs are two areas 
we think everyone should be familiar 
with. How many times have you 
wasted time searching your inbox or 
sent mail for a message with an at- 
tachment that you know you sent 
(or received) recently? With NEO, 
you can search through the Corre- 
spondent folder or the Attachment 
folder. For example, to view all mes- 
sages with attachments, whether you 
were the sender or the recipient, click 
the Attachment tab and choose the 
file type (such as DOC [Microsoft 
Word Document] or JPEG [Joint 
Photographic Experts Croup]). NEO 
then offers up every message that in- 
cluded an attachment with that file 
type. If you can't remember the exact 
file type but you know the name of 
the person who sent it, you can click 
the Correspondent tab and scroll 
down to the name. Click the person's 
name, and NEO reveals all of his mes- 
sages in the main window. Scroll to 
find the email you are looking for. I 






PC Today / August 2004 97 




reviews & Reviews 



Rampell Software 
ViewRemote 2.17 



For years, Web surfers 
have worried about on- 
line security. They worry 
that someone might be 
monitoring the sites they 
view or stealing their per- 
sonal identity from pass- 
word-protected sites. In 
short, they worry about 
a faceless "Big Brother" 
watching their every move. 
Although that kind of 
monitoring is clearly an in- 
vasion of privacy, a dif- 
ferent kind of monitoring, 
done for different reasons, 
is sometimes necessary. 
ViewRemote 2.17 can help you keep 
an eye on your computer, even if you 
happen to be halfway around the world. 

A Watchful Eye 

The concept behind ViewRemote is a 
simple one because it lets you easily keep 
track of all the activity on any computer 
on which you installed the program. 
ViewRemote creates detailed logs and 
captures screen shots of everything that is 
done on the computer. You can then view 
the logs either on the monitored PC or on 
a remote computer by logging on to the 
ViewRemote Web site and accessing your 
user page. 

This means, for example, that as a 
parent you can keep on eye on the family 
PC while you're at work or on the road 
and your kids are at home. Or, if you 




ViewRemote 2.17 
$69.95 

Rampell Software 

(617)395-7695 

www.viewremote.com 



Ratings 



Interface: 

Performance: 

Features: 

Documentation: 

OVERALL: 



MINIMI 
MIMMIII 
lllllllll 
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 

lllllllll 



8.5 

9.5 

9 

7 

8.5 



are an employer, you can 
monitor an employee's 
computer even when you 
are out of the office. 

When installing the 
program, you need to se- 
lect a password and a 
login name. You will use 
the password to access the 
program on the computer 
where you have installed 
the program. You will use 
the password and the 
login name together to 
access your user page on 
the ViewRemote Web site. 
Beyond picking your 
login name and password, you don't 
need to do much to get the program 
rolling. One key option you have at 
setup is to run the program in Hidden 
Mode. If you choose Hidden Mode, 
ViewRemote will not appear on the Start 
menu, but you can use an activation 
hotkey to access the program. In either 
mode, ViewRemote will begin to mon- 
itor the PC as soon as the computer is 
turned on. 

ViewRemote's interface is bare bones 
because it runs in the background. The 
interface does offer a few options for 
modifying how the program works. You 
change where ViewRemote stores the logs 
it creates. You also can determine after 
how many days the program will delete 
logs. Another important feature, found 
under Web Options, is the frequency at 
which the program sends logs and/or 
screen shots to your ViewRemote user 
page. Similarly, you can set the program 
to send logs and screen shots to another 
email address. 

Remote Control 

With your login name and password, 
you have remote monitoring capabilities 



through your user page at the View- 
Remote Web site. We found accessing 
our page a cinch, and we were impressed 
with how detailed the logs were. Also, 
we could launch an automatic scroll- 
through of the screen shots with just a 
click of a button, and we could call up 
single screen shots individually. 

The logs are somewhat garbled in 
places, but that's partly because View- 
Remote keeps track of every keystroke. 
Some of the garbled look, however, is due 
to the program itself; a kink the makers of 
ViewRemote need to work out. 

The logs keep track of almost every- 
thing someone views or accesses on the 
computer: names of Web sites he visits, 
emails and documents he writes, pro- 
grams he accesses, files he prints, even 
the number of times he opens the Start 
menu. About the only thing you can't see 
with ViewRemote is the content of an 
email message. 

ViewRemote 2.17 works on Windows 
98 and later. The retail price includes six 
months free online use and upgrades. 
Beyond that, you'll need to pay $9.99 
every six months to maintain access to the 
ViewRemote login site, pct 

by Rachel Derowitsch 



How To . . . 



Send Logs Via Email 

You don't have to monitor a PC 
using the ViewRemote Web site. 
You can instead choose to have the 
program send the logs to you in an 
email. To set up this option, click 
E-mail Options on the main interface 
and select the Send Logs Via E-mail 
checkbox. Next, enter the email ad- 
dress you want the logs sent to and 
specify how frequently it should send 
the logs. You also have the option to 
receive an attached screen shot of the 
computer's activities. 

By default, the ViewRemote Web 
site will send the logs, so anyone using 
the monitored computer won't have 
a clue about what's going on. I 



98 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



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isn't what it used to be. 

Double the dose. 



V 




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Your Turn 



Windows Media Player 9 Series Premium Services 



A certain fruit-flavored music service gets 
most of the attention surrounding 
downloadable premium media content. A 
vast number of alternatives exist for seekers 
of both video and audio entertainment. The 
majority of premium content delivery ser- 
vices rely on Windows Media Player 9 
Series, with its integrated DRM (digital 
rights management) to provide users with a 
controlled media delivery experience. 

WMP 9 Series includes a Premium Ser- 
vices section, offering quick access to a 
select group of pay-for-play multimedia ser- 
vices. To access it, click Premium Services in 
the left pane of the WMP 9 Series interface. 
Even this collection barely scratches the sur- 
face of the broader market. Numerous other 
premium services also deliver the WMP 9 
Series experience outside of the WMP. 

To accurately illustrate the available pre- 
mium media options, we'll first discuss the 
four services (CinemaNow, MusicNow, 



provides an 
integrated music 
shopping experience. 

CinemaNow 
delivers movies 
on demand through 
Windows Media 
Player. 



Napster, and NFL Highlight Machine) inte- 
grated with WMP, focusing on both the con- 
tent offered and quality of delivery. This 
comprehensive coverage identifies what 
each service provides in terms of features, 
usability, how well integration with WMP is 
established, and what extra components are 
required for some of the services. Once the 
bundled services are outlined, we ex- 
pand beyond the player to cover notable 
premium services (Buy.com/BuyMusic, 
MLB. TV, and MusicMatch) available outside 
the confines of the Windows Media Player, 
presenting a broad picture of the assortment 
of content available. 

CinemaNow 

As the name of this service implies, 
movies on demand is the primary focus. To 
access CinemaNow directly from WMP, 
click the arrow next to the Premium Services 
button on the left side of the player and 
choose Subscribe from the list of op- 
tions. Click CinemaNow to browse 
the service directly in the player. 
Registration with a credit card is re- 
quired to use the service. 

Purchase options are slightly con- 
fusing, mainly due to the number of 
options. Most major studio releases 
fall under the pay-per-view category 
with rates of either $2.99 or $3.99 for 
unlimited viewing in a 24-hour pe- 
riod. Some movies are available for 
purchased download, with unlimited 
viewing on the computer used to 
make the purchase. Premium and 
Premium Plus subscription options provide 
access to a subset of all CinemaNow content 
for either a monthly or annual fee. The 
Premium service is $9.95 per month or 
$49.95 annually, while the Premium Plus 
service costs $29.95 per month or $99.95 an- 
nually. The most obvious difference between 
the two subscription levels is the inclusion 
of adult content and Mr. Bill cartoons in the 
Premium Plus version. 



100 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



Af, 



ter Five ;f >**?- 
— t? 1 f 



Pay-per-view movies are available 
for download during the 24-hour pur- 
chase period, with a claim of being able 
to watch the movies in as little as 30 sec- 
onds from the start of the download. 
However, the fastest download-to- 
watch time achieved during testing was 
closer to 30 minutes using a standard 
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) connec- 
tion. Streaming video takes consider- 
ably less time, with a buffer of only a 
few minutes required for uninterrupted 
viewing throughout the stream. Tl or 
faster connections may experience 
better connection times. We definitely 
don't recommend this service for dial- 
up users. 

CinemaNow is only slightly inte- 
grated with Windows Media Player. 
Browsing the site functions well 
within the player, but the service 
never adds itself to the Premium 
Services list, requiring the user to 
pass through the Subscribe page each 
time before reaching CinemaNow 
within the player window. Choosing 
either Download or Stream once you 
select a movie launches an Internet 
Explorer window, taking focus away 
from the player. Streaming movies 
play back in this window, which is 
expandable to full screen. Down- 
loads are stored in a user-specified 
directory, launching in the player 
when the download is complete. 

File sizes for downloads are con- 
sistently large, requiring over 700MB 
of space for a two-hour movie. You 
must license the movies each time 
they are played, which slows initial 
play time by a few seconds but is not 
inconvenient enough to make the 
service unbearable. Burning movie 
files to DVD for archival storage 
works, but you can only play them 
back on the same PC on which you 
downloaded them. 

Image and sound quality of videos 
is on par with cable television. You 
can use your PC with Video Out to 
dispatch the signal to a TV, which 
provides an experience good enough 
to pass for standard cable or satellite 
television. Using a Media Center 
Edition installation of Windows XP 



Napster radio 
offers a customiz- 
able streaming 
experience for 
premium 
subscribers. 



® 



The Napster inter- 
face offers one of the 
most user-friendly 
shopping experi- 
ences available. 



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makes CinemaNow just like a tradi- 
tional pay-per-view service. All 
movies tested during this review 
output content in 4:3 full screen. 
(CinemaNow doesn't indicate if 16:9 
widescreen content is available.) 
Downloading requires installation of 
an ActiveX control, which takes vir- 
tually no time to prepare. 

For frequent movie watchers, a 
service such as Netflix (www.net 
flix.com) probably makes more sense 
at this point because the selection of 
movies is lacking, and movies are 
only available via pay-per-view for a 
few months in most cases. (Check out 
Nexflix's Web site for subscription 
options and pricing.) While stream- 
ing is more instantaneous than a 
DVD rental service, the lack of con- 
tent hurts the subscription model. 
The catalog of Premium and Premium 
Plus titles is decent, if viewing tastes 
run toward low-budget and the 



obscure, although you could easily find 
a worse place to spend the $6 per 
month for an annual subscription to the 
Premium version. 

MusicNow 

Best Buy stores launched Mu- 
sicNow with the idea that selling 
portable players could translate into 
sales of music downloads through 
cross-promotion. This is a great idea in 
theory. We first tried the MusicNow 
service thanks to an offer of 10 free 
tracks attached to the front of a Rio 
Karma (www.rioaudio.com) MP3 
player package. While MusicNow still 
maintains the Best Buy brand, it is 
now part of Circuit City. 

Like most other music download 
services, MusicNow offers individual 
songs for 99 cents. Full albums vary 
in price depending on size, although 
the most common pricing is either 
$9.99 or $13.99. A block of songs 



PC Today / August 2004 101 






A 



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combined around a common theme, 
known as a TrackPak, is available at 
various prices depending on the 
number of songs in the bundle. 

Subscriptions are available for 
$4.95 or $9.95 per month. The $4.95 
plan is a monthly subscription to 
commercial-free streaming radio 
channels. With the $9.95 
subscription, customiz- „^^^= 
able playlists of the songs 
you purchase and full- 
length track previews 
are available. 

After purchasing a track, 
you are limited to down- 
loading a song one time to 
one PC unless customer 
service intervenes. (You 
can burn them to a CD up 
to 10 times.) You can 
transfer tracks from the PC 
to a portable device mul- 
tiple times, but attempting 
to play them back on an- 
other PC prompts you to 
purchase them again. This 
doesn't sit well when your 
primary PC loses a hard 
drive after downloading 
the songs, requiring you 
to download all tracks 
again, only to discover 
you can't do it twice 
without digging through 
the Help file and con- 
tacting customer service. 

The MusicNow service 
is easy to browse. It's the 
only service in the Win- 
dows Media Player 9 
Series Premium Services with full in- 
tegration into the player and no 
standalone player or outside compo- 
nents. A 2.2MB download is required 
for the plug-in to function properly. 
Occasionally, an application called 
WMP 9 Importer, which is associated 
with the MusicNow store, gets hung 
up, in which case you're forced to 
restart Windows Media Player. 

You can also browse the music li- 
brary from a Web browser; however, 
integration into the Windows Media 
Player makes the store much more 



intuitive. The selection of albums is 
very representative of the music cat- 
alog available at former parent com- 
pany Best Buy. For users seeking a 
diverse catalog of older music, 
MusicNow in Windows Media Play- 
er 9 Series beats all the other services 
hands down. 



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Highlight Machine provides minimal access to content 
through the Windows Media Player. 





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Napster provides quick access to restoring music down- 
loads from accidental deletion or upgrades to the OS. 



Napster 

The name Napster remains the 
most well-known when it comes to 
music downloading. The brand is 
now legit, serving up 99-cent down- 
loads instead of sharing files between 
college dorm rooms across the 
country. As part of the Roxio um- 
brella of applications, Napster is 
quite possibly the most user-friendly 
of the music services. 

Napster is available in two for- 
mats. It plugs directly into Windows 
Media Player 9: Click Napster from 



the Premium Services window. A se- 
ries of steps leads you through instal- 
lation and creates an integrated 
shopping and listening environment 
within WMP 9 Series. You can also 
download Napster directly from the 
Web and install a separate applica- 
tion interface, which looks exactly 
like the plug-in, without 
wrapping WMP around it. 
(The standalone Napster 
download is 10.7MB.) 

Napster downloads are 
99 cents for individual 
tracks or $9.95 for most al- 
bums. Some albums are in- 
explicably more expensive. 
Discounts on downloads 
are available when Track 
Packs are purchased. These 
are essentially gift certifi- 
cates offering discounts 
when prepurchasing 15, 
25, or 50 songs. The 50- 
song Track Pack prices 
individual tracks at 80 
cents each. 

In addition to down- 
loading songs, Napster 
also offers a premium 
radio service with more 
than 50 different commer- 
cial-free broadcasts cov- 
ering a variety of genres. 
Premium users may also 
create their own custom 
streaming playlists from 
500,000+ songs in the 
Napster library. Radio sta- 
tions offer the unique 
ability to scroll through 
the playlist and jump ahead to the 
songs you like. 

Purchasing music is almost too 
easy. To create an account, you need 
a credit card, which is automatically 
charged when songs are selected. 
Clicking a Buy Album button initi- 
ates file downloading almost instan- 
taneously, which might be too easy 
for children to accidentally run up 
large, unwanted, unknown pur- 
chases on their parents' credit cards. 
This feature is outstanding because 
the purchase is virtually invisible, 



102 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



Af, 



ter Five 






but the invisibility is a double- 
edged sword. 

DRM is just as invisible as 
the purchasing. Licenses are 
acquired in the background, 
giving users all the rights they 
are entitled to without making 
things complicated. Burning 
music to CDs, downloading to 
multiple machines, and transfer- 
ring music to a portable device 
seems to work without cum- 
bering the user with "you can't 
do that"-type warnings. When 
rights violations, such as im- 
porting songs into Windows 
Movie Maker, are attempted, the 
appropriate warning is issued. 

Other Napster features are equally 
intuitive and efficient. Browsing songs 
using the Search function is quicker 
than any of the other services we 
tested. The WMP 9 Series-integrated 
version seems to lag slightly com- 
pared to the standalone Napster but 
not enough to ignore the advantages 
of having quick access to visualiza- 
tions, plug-ins, and other player en- 
hancements. A messaging feature lets 
users share playlists with or send 
album recommendations to other 
Napster users or anyone with an email 
address. Message boards could be 
useful but instead are overwhelmed 
with mindless discussions of who the 
message board in-crowd is. 

Napster isn't without its faults. 
Music gets automatically dumped di- 
rectly into the My Music folder 
(or another folder you specify 
when you install the applica- 
tion) instead of creating a sub- 
folder for individual artists and 
albums, which is the default be- 
havior of Windows Media Play- 
er. This annoyance is redeemed 
slightly by including the album 
art in the download. 

NHL Highlight Machine 

Hockey fans corner the mar- 
ket on player-integrated sports 
content. NHL Highlight Ma- 
chine, a service of NHL.com via 
MSN Sports, provides full access 



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to Windows Media Player. 



to NHL highlight reels, including 
press conferences and game high- 
lights, for $4.95 per month or $29.95 
for the entire hockey season. The ser- 
vice lets users create Watch Lists of 
players, making it easy to track spe- 
cific game and team highlights 
without having to wade through un- 
wanted information. CinemaNow, 
curiously, provides the support for 
this service. 

Subscribing through the player 
adds a plug-in to the Premium Ser- 
vices tab, offering the least integra- 
tion of the four available services. 
After installing Highlight Machine, 
clicking the NHL Video or NHL 
Highlight Machine links launches an 
external browser window. Videos are 
available at 56Kbps (kilobits per 
second) or 300Kbps bit rates, typically 




displaying content at 320 x 240 
with low-quality audio. Stream- 
ing video buffers quickly, pro- 
viding rapid access to content, 
but the quality leaves much to 
be desired. 

In addition to configurable 
video highlights, a Highlight 
Machine subscription entitles 
subscribers to discounts on 
other NHL.com services. Home 
Videos is a hockey video rental 
service, featuring a variety of 
hockey movies for $2.95 (or 
$1.95 for Highlight Machine 
subscribers). NHL All Access of- 
fers behind-the-scenes content 
featuring locker room antics, general 
manager interviews, and other 
hockey happenings for the same 
rates. During the off-season, keep 
hockey mania alive by watching his- 
toric games, again at the same rates. 

Basically, Highlight machine is a 
glorified discount pass, providing 
a small discount on any of the pre- 
mium video services available from 
NHL.com. Die-hard fans will prob- 
ably find this subscription a valuable 
asset; casual fans or hockey haters 
won't find much value here, how- 
ever. Starting with the sixth movie 
viewed in a month, you are ahead of 
the nonsubscriber by $1 for every 
video watched. 

Multimedia Partners 

CinemaNow, MusicNow, and Nap- 
ster could appeal to any computer 
user who enjoys digital video and 
music. As far as such applications 
go, these are as good as any other, 
and the appeal is widespread 
enough to make them all valuable 
assets to Windows Media Player 9 
Series. NHL Highlight Machine 
doesn't appeal to as wide an audi- 
ence, but it is attractive to a small 
niche and is a very efficient and 
valuable service. Explore each of 
these services to get the most out 
of WMP 9 Series, pct 



[tfi MSN Premium offers affordable access 

to Windows Media Streams of Major 
League Baseball games. 



by lake Ludington 



PC Today / August 2004 103 



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A Look At What's New In PC Gaming 

by P. Bryan Edge-Salios 




Unreal Tournament 2004 



U 



nreal Tournament 
2004 is the near- 
perfect refinement of 
3D multiplayer shoot- 
ers. We had high expec- 
tations for Unreal Tournament 2004, and 
every expectation was met or exceeded. 

Graphically, Unreal Tournament 2004 is 
gorgeous, with detailed, colorful environ- 
ments painting the backdrop for the 
chaotic battles taking place against them. 
There are also dozens of highly detailed 
character skins, including Skaarj warriors, 
cyborgs, and anime-style robots. 

Throughout the single-player game, 
you'll battle computer opponents (bots) in 
various matches, eventually commanding 
a squad of computerized teammates. 
However, the single-player game is still a 
pale imitation of Unreal Tournament 
2004's true experience: fragging human 
opponents. Hosing down an opponent 
with a chaingun just isn't gratifying unless 
you're truly annoying someone. To that 
end, Unreal Tournament 2004 provides 10 
multiplayer games. Seven of those games 
are team-based. 

Double Domination involves capturing 
and holding two Domination points for 10 
seconds in order to score. Bombing Run is 
essentially football with 
guns. Invasion places a 



team in an Alamo-style mission where it 
must defend against waves and waves of 
enemy (bot) onslaughts. Assault pits teams 
against each other. Onslaught is a strategic 
capture-and-hold game. Teams must cap- 
ture and hold map points in a connect-the- 
dots fashion in order to link their base with 
the enemy's, at which point the enemy's 
power core may be attacked and destroyed 
for a victory. 

Individual match types include stan- 
dard free-for-all Deathmatch, Mutant, and 
Last Man Standing. The goal of Mutant is 
to become The Mutant by scoring the first 
kill and thereafter scoring as many kills as 
possible before dying. Last Man Standing 
is a deathmatch game in which players 
have limited respawns and regain health 
by killing other players. 

In addition to new maps and 
weapons, Unreal Tournament 2004 in- 
troduces new vehicles and play modes. 
New weapons include the ion-painter, 
the link-gun, and the shield gun. The 
link-gun provides both a weapon and a 
repair device, and the ion-painter lights 
up a target for a suborbital ion cannon 
where you can lay some 
serious, serious 
smackdown. You 
can also 



control various vehicles and turrets. 
Vehicles include the Goliath Tank, the 
Scorpion (think Jeep), the Hellbender 
(think Humvee), and the Leviathan, a 
huge troop transport with four turrets. 
The Hellbender, Leviathan, and Scor- 
pion accommodate additional gunner po- 
sitions to help defend the vehicle. The 
Manta, a single-man hovercraft, and the 
Raptor, a single-pilot fighter, provide air 
support. Human and Skaarj Spacefighters 
round out the vehicle selection — yes, 
there are even dogfights in space. 

Unreal Tournament 2004 is a virtu- 
ally perfect multiplayer shooter in every 
respect. The single-player experience is 
good, but let's not kid ourselves. Unreal 
Tournament 2004 is all about multi- 
player frag-fests, and in this arena it 
kicks major booty. 

Unreal Tournament 2004 requires 
Windows 98/Me/2000/XP, a 1GHz 
Pentium III or AMD Athlon CPU, 
128MB RAM, 5.5GB hard drive space, a 
64MB video card, and a DirectX 8.1- 
compatible sound card. A NIC (network 
interface card) is required for LAN 
(local-area network) play. I 




PC Today / August 2004 105 



Hitman: Contracts 



Hitman: Contracts puts you 
in the role of the myste- 
rious, bald, bar-coded assassin 
known only as 47. The game 
begins with a wounded 47 
crawling back to his hotel 
room where he drifts in and 
out of consciousness, remem- 
bering various assignments, 
which serve as the missions in 
the game. 

Every mission consists of one 
or more objectives (at least one 
of which is killing someone), 
which 47 can tackle through a 
combination of stealth, sub- 
terfuge, and gunplay. Hitman's 
emphasis is more on stealth and 
resourcefulness than charging 
in with guns ablazing, but the 
latter is always an option, and 
your employers aren't generally 
picky about how you get the job done. 

To eliminate targets quietly, 47 can sneak up behind them, 
knocking them unconscious or killing them with any number of 
standard or improvised weapons, such as a shovel or kitchen 
knife. Of course, 47 also has firearms, including twin .45 pistols, 
a silenced pistol, shotguns, machine guns, and (of course) a 
sniper rifle. 47 also carries a lockpick, nightvision goggles, and 
binoculars for surveillance. He can only carry his pistols and 
one rifle at a time and can only conceal small weapons, which is 
an important point when you're disguised. 

47 may disguise himself with a victim's clothing, allowing 

him to move freely through assignments as long 
as the victim's body was discreetly hidden 
and he doesn't act suspicious entering re- 
stricted areas or openly brandishing a 

weapon. Missions gener- 
ally provide environ- 
mental resources that you 
can use to eliminate a 
target, such as dropping a 
laxative into soup served to 



$49.99 
Eidos 

www.hitmancontracts.com 
ESRB Rating: Mature 





your target and then waiting in 
the bathroom to eliminate him 
quietly and take his clothes. 
An in-game map provides 
detailed tactical information 
about every mission, including 
the locations and movement of 
enemies and 47's intended 
target(s). The map also marks 
points of interest, which provide 
useful information or objects for 
solving each mission. 

The best part of Hitman: 
Contracts is that you can ap- 
proach every mission differently 
using a combination of stealth, a 
little puzzle solving, or action, 
and you're free to choose your 
own methods. For example, an 
early mission tasks you with 
killing the Meat King and one of 
his high-level cronies. Killing a 
butcher and stealing his clothes provides the disguise necessary 
for entry to grounds where a party is taking place. Once inside, 
you might bump off a lone guard, take his weapon, and tear up 
the party with a machine gun. Alternately, you might enter the 
kitchen, collect a plate of chicken, hide a lethal syringe in it (to 
get past the guards who pat you down), and deliver the deadly 
bird to the Meat King. 

The sound and graphics in Hitman: Contracts are dark, cin- 
ematic, and even grotesque. This is no game for children, and 
the game's Mature rating is well deserved. But what would 
you expect from a game putting you in the role of a ruthless 
contract killer? 

Our biggest complaint with the game are the controls and a 
relatively lousy tutorial. Movement is handled by the W, A, S, 
and D keys, the mouse, and number keys. 47 can walk, run, 
sneak, peer around corners, and jump across balconies. We en- 
countered periodic, erratic mouse control, and context-sensitive 
help would have been appreciated. Certain mission-specific ac- 
tions (such as putting a syringe in a chicken) are not clearly ex- 
plained; you just have to figure it out. Some controls are 
counterintuitive: Pressing the 5 key activates the binoculars, but 
you must right-click to deactivate them. Pressing the 6 key acti- 
vates and deactivates night vision. 

Hitman: Contracts requires Win98SE/Me/2000/XP, an 
800MHz Intel Pentium III or Athlon CPU, 128MB RAM (256MB 
RAM for Win2000/XP), 2GB hard drive space, a 100% DirectX 
8-compatible sound card, 4X CD-ROM drive, and a 32MB 
DirectX 8-compatible video card with T&L (Transform & 
^^^^^^^^^^_ Lighting) support. I 



106 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



City Of Heroes 



At long last, someone has created an 
MMORPG (Massively MultiPlayer 
OnLine Role-Playing Game) that isn't just 
another dressed-up clone of Ever- 
quest. City Of Heroes puts you in the 
shoes and colorful spandex of your own 
custom superhero, stamping out villainy 
solo or with a super-team in the mean 
streets of Paragon City. 

Like all MMORPGs, City Of Heroes be- 
gins with character creation. A basic char- 
acter origin and archetype are selected to 
create the base for your character. Tankers 
and Scrappers are chiefly melee fighters, 
Blasters and Controllers fight best at short 
range, and Defenders work as support he- 
roes, hindering enemies and aiding allies 
while providing some ranged support. 

Every character begins with a primary 
and secondary power set, each containing 
multiple powers. As characters advance 
in level (called Security Level), you can 
purchase new powers. A Tanker, for ex- 
ample, might start with Invulnerability 
and Super Strength as his first two power 
sets and select Resist Physical Damage 
and Punch as starting powers. As the 
character gains levels, he can purchase 
new powers within his power sets or pur- 
chase a new Power Set (such as Flight or 
Leaping, for example) beginning at the 
sixth level. 

Once a basic character is created, the 
most fun part of character creation 
awaits: designing your super-skivvies. 
City Of Heroes provides thousands of 
options for character appearance, cos- 
tume, and colors, though capes are 
strangely absent from the costume ac- 
cessories. You can store up to eight he- 
roes per account, so there's plenty of 
room for experimenting with different 
character types and costumes. 



^ 


^ 


. 


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^ -**>- 



City Of Heroes is by far the most user- 
friendly MMORPG we've experienced. 
The interface is very elegant and intuitive. 
It's easy to start playing without diving 
into the colorful 100-plus page manual. 
(However, the manual has a lot of good 
information, so we highly recommend 
reading it.) The opening tutorial is excel- 
lent and explains basic gameplay very 
well and also levels you up to Security 
Level 2 once you've completed it. 
Waypoints on the horizon mark impor- 
tant locations for contacts (NPCs [non- 
player characters] that assign missions), 
mission locations, or any hero or map lo- 
cation you designate as a waypoint. 
Movement is handled via the W, A, S, and 
D keys and the mouse, and powers are ac- 
tivated via number keys or by clicking the 
power's icon on the Power toolbar. 

There is no treasure or inventory in 
City Of Heroes. Dying prior to the 
fourth level is penalty-free; after the 
fourth level, an experience point debt is 
incurred, which just serves to slow ad- 
vancement. There are three main re- 
sources in the game that you can acquire 
by defeating villains and /or completing 
missions: Influence, Inspirations, and 
Enhancements. Influence acts as money 
and is used to purchase Inspirations and 
Enhancements. Inspirations grant tem- 
porary benefits such as damage in- 
creases or health or endurance recovery. 
Enhancements are semipermanent mod- 
ifiers that improve your powers, in- 
creasing their range, accuracy, damage 
potential, and other attributes. 

City Of Heroes breathes fresh air into a 
crowded MMORPG market and offers the 
best, most user-friendly interface we've 



CityOfHeros 

$49.99 (plus monthly fees) 
NCSoft 
www.cityofheroes.com 
ESRB Rating Teen 




seen. Our experience with the game was 
rock-solid, with virtually no lag, server 
crashes, or connection problems. The only 
downside to this stellar game is its steep 
entry price of $49.99 for the game and 
$14.95 per month (less if you purchase 
larger blocks of months in advance). 

City Of Heroes requires Win98/Me/ 
XP/2000, an 800MHz Intel Pentium III 
or AMD Athlon CPU, 256MB RAM, 2GB 
hard drive space, a 4X CD-ROM, a 
GeForce 2 Series or ATI Radeon 8500 
video card (or better), a 16-bit sound 
card, and a 56Kbps (kilobits per 
second) modem. I 



- ■ 



Last Bytes 

Google On Holiday 



by Carmen Carmack 



If you logged on to Google (www.google.com) during Earth Day this 
year, you would have seen the Google logo transformed into a 
scenic mountain lake. This was not the work of an environmental 
hacker out to deface the Google Web site. On the contrary, to cele- 
brate holidays and other historic dates, the company has temporarily 
changed its signature logo since 1999. 

For an entertaining look at these logos at any time of the year, 
check out Google's online logo museum at www.google.com/holiday 
logos.html. By default, the page displays the current year's collection. 
It also includes links to archives for past years' logos. For example, click 
the 2002 link under the More Holiday Logos heading, scroll down to 
the May 20, 2002, entry, and click the Dilbert Google Doodle link to 
see Dilbert's efforts to develop a new Google logo. 




Soogle 
G ogle 
Gopgle 




"Warez" The Beef? 



The U.S. government, along with trade associations, such as the BSA (Business Software 
Alliance), the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), and the RIAA (Recording 
Industry Association of America), have a beef with warez groups (organizations that illegally 
distribute copyrighted software, games, music, and movies on the Internet). 

Earlier this year, an effort dubbed Operation Fastlink targeted nearly 100 individuals with 
searches in 10 countries and 27 states. The international investigation, which began with coor- 
dinated efforts between the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice, culminated with the 
seizure of more than 200 computers in April. The estimated value of the pirated material 
stored on the computers was in excess of $50 million, according to the Department of Justice. 

A previous crackdown, known as Operation Buccaneer, targeted more than 40 individuals. 
The effort has resulted in numerous felony convictions. 



Tech Trash Is Treasure 



Not sure what to do with your old computer equip- 
ment? Don't shove it in your closet or dump it in 
the trash. Instead, consider reusing or recycling it. 

The EIA (Electronic Industries Alliance) sponsors the CEI 
(Consumer Education Initiative) Web site (www.eiae.org). 
The site provides details about reuse and recycle programs 
available through various organizations. You can also find 
information about local or nationals programs. Earth 911 
(www.earth911.org), another handy online source, is a 
clearinghouse for programs that prevent environmental 
waste, including cell phone and electronics recycling. 

Hardware manufacturers, including Dell, IBM, and HP, sponsor many nationwide consumer 
electronics reuse and recycle programs. Some of the programs are free with a qualified purchase, 
and other programs require a small fee for shipping, picking up, or refurbishing equipment. Some 
local governments and national retailers also sponsor used electronics collection days in desig- 
nated locations. Dell's 2003 Recycling National Tour, for example, visited 15 cities and collected 
almost 2 million pounds of computer electronics. 





Know What I Mean? 



The real problem 
is not whether 
machines think 
but whether 
men do. 



-B. F. Skinner, behaviorist and 

author, in his 1969 book 

"Contingencies of Reinforcement: 

A Theoretical Analysis" 



"To Start 
Press Any Key' 




"Where's the ANY 
key? I see Esk [ESC], 
Catarl [CTRL], and 
Pig-Up [PGUP]. There 
doesn't seem to be 
any ANY key. Woo! 
All this computer 
hacking is making me 
thirsty. I think I'll 
order a [TAB]." 

-Homer Simpson, "The 
Simpsons" season seven. 



108 August 2004 / www.pctoday.com 



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