Stories by Stan Miastkowski

Graphics Card Mimics VCR

New multimedia add-ins and peripherals are blurring the line between PCs and home entertainment devices. Matrox Graphics Inc. makes the point again with its announcement of the Marvel G450e-TV, an AGP add-in card that provides TV tuning, MPEG-2 analog video capture and editing, TV on the PC, PC out to TV, DVD playback, dual display support, and more.

Hassle-Free Backups

Chances are you don't think much about your PC's hard drive, but what would you do without the precious data it holds? Your financial records, your appointment calendar, and maybe that multimegabyte, ticket-out-of-middle-management side project you've been working on for years--all stored as billions of magnetic, microscopic points on metal platters spinning at thousands of revolutions per minute. If anything goes wrong with this finely tuned electromechanical system, all your data can be gone in 60 nanoseconds. And despite decades of research and testing by thousands of talented engineers, things still go wrong.

Cover Your Tracks

SAN FRANCISCO (08/28/2000) - If you feel that it's nobody's business where you go on the Internet, Ontrack Data International Inc.'s Internet Cleanup offers to cover your tracks. The $25 utility, which runs on any version of Windows and supports all the major Web browsers, lets you wipe out cache files, history files, cookies, ActiveX controls, and plug-ins. You can choose manual or automatic cleansing, specify cookies you want to keep, and use a secure erase to overwrite data. Unfortunately, Internet Cleanup doesn't erase the Windows recent-document list, so anyone can see what files you opened while you were browsing. In addition, I found that when I used it with "smart" Recycle Bin utilities (such as as the one in Norton Utilities), files deleted by Internet Cleanup were still available for review. However, that didn't happen with Windows' standard Recycle Bin. Ontrack; 800/872-259;

Norton SystemWorks Gets a Face-Lift

Despite competitors such as McAfee Office and Ontrack SystemSuite nipping hungrily at its heels, Symantec Corp.'s Norton SystemWorks remains the master utility suite--and with good reason.

Boost Your PC Memory

Today's operating systems and applications are RAM hungry. When software runs out of RAM, Windows starts swapping data to and from your PC's hard disk--a much slower process than fetching it from and writing it to RAM. Adding RAM to your PC is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to boost its performance.

Make your e-mail disappear

Are you haunted by some of the things you've said in e-mail over the years? You can't change the past, but an add-on to Microsoft Outlook will let you render your e-mail unreadable after your specified time.
Disappearing Email is developed by Disappearing Inc, which already offers a version for companies. That product lets system managers set e-mail policies and includes several sophisticated features.

Wristwatch Will Lock a PC

External hackers and mysterious system crackers get the attention, but security analysts say the real threat comes from within. Ensure Technologies, which makes a wireless access system, is preparing a kind of wearable password to make security even more automatic and effective.

Maxtor Rolls Out 80GB Hard Drive

With hard drives getting bigger and bigger all the time, it's easy to get blasé about capacities. But this week, Maxtor Corp. introduced what Ed Sullivan might have called, "a really big drive." The DiamondMax 80 EIDE drive will hold 80GB of data, and is--for today at least--the world's largest-capacity, commercially available hard drive.

3Com Cards Deal Easy Connections

If you've used PC Cards over the years, you know their cable connectors have evolved. Proprietary "dongles" that were easy to lose and expensive to replace have given way to pop-out jacks into which you can plug modem and network cables.

Get a Grip on Disorganized PC Data

A new free utility from Enfish Inc. called Onespace can help you impose order on your PC's data chaos. It manages both locally stored information and Internet data through one centralized interface. In many ways, this utility replaces the Windows desktop.

This Old Notebook

Two classic PC upgrades--adding memory and adding a new hard disk-- will work for notebooks, too. But keep in mind that introducing external add-ons (connected via a parallel port, USB port, or PC Card slot) can extend the life of an old notebook as well.

Talk Fast: New Speech Recognition Software

To date, though voice recognition software has been a godsend to many disabled users and for specialized applications, most home and business users have found it to be an acquired taste. Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products Inc.'s Voice Xpress Professional Version 5, however, shows how rapidly the technology is improving. The newest version of this popular program sets up faster than ever, works more accurately, and is easier to use.

Intel Launches Web Appliance

Plenty of folks still don't surf the Web at home, mostly because they don't want to hassle with the complexities of your garden-variety PC, no matter how cheap it is. For this Web-deprived population, Intel has an answer.

Disney Games Go Broadband

The cost of new computer games, educational or otherwise, can quickly empty a parent's wallet. But now, if you have a broadband connection, you can rent these games instead of buying them.