FROM THE TUSTIN NEWS, THURSDAY, JANUARY 24, 2002


THE DOC IS IN...

Internet full of 'specific' little programs

The other day my wife asked me why I have so many icons on my Windows desktop. "Because I use a lot of special programs," I answered.

The Internet is full of little programs that serve very specific and distinct purposes. Many are available free of charge and some can be purchased for a small amount. All are downloadable from the Internet and most have a free trial period. I try some of these simply because I like to play.

Recently I was curious about programs that could block the annoying popup ads that appear on our screens when we visit web sites.

I went to the Google search engine, www.google.com and entered the search terms 'block popup ads.' One site that caught my eye was www.adsgone.com. They advertise a small program called "AdsGone," and offer a 21 day free trial. After the trial period, it costs $14.95. Since this is within my computer 'play' budget, I downloaded the program and tried it. It seemed to work and I eventually purchased it on-line.

Another icon is for "Backup Magic," a downloadable program that allows me to backup a whole group of files of my choosing, all at one time. This makes backing up data files a simple one-click operation. Backup Magic was found at www.moonsoftware.com. I downloaded a trial version and purchased the full version for $19.95. I use it every day.

"Window Washer" from www.webroot.com removes all the remnants from Internet sessions. It removes the temporary Internet files, cookies and history files that remain on the computer after Web browsing. These files can take up a lot of space on the computer and are not needed. The program also removes all the history of browsing sessions. Possibly you don't want others to see a record of the places you have visited while browsing the Web. I tried it for a while and purchased the program for $29.95, at the very upper limit of my 'play' budget.

"Zone Alarm" is a popular Internet firewall, a program that blocks hackers from getting access to your computer. It's sort of a plaything for us with dialup Internet access (through our telephones) but is essential for users of either DSL or cable access. It is the first line of defense in Internet security. Interestingly, Zone Alarm is downloadable free of charge from www.zonealarm.com. A 'professional' version is available for $49.95, but is not necessary for home use.

"Cookie Pal" is a fun little program that blocks (eats) unwanted cookies. It is available for a 30 day trial from www.kburra.com, and costs $15.00 to purchase. It blocks cookies, those little files put on your computer by many web sites that help identify you. I have mine set to block the "bad" cookies (those from notorious advertising sites) but allow the "good" cookies, like those from Amazon, to enter.

Some other icons on my desktop are for my specific needs. I have WinSNTP to set my computer clock to within about one hundredth of a second. I purchased it from Coetanian Systems but their web site seems to have disappeared. Other SNTP (Simple Network Time Protocol) sites can be found by visiting www.boulder.nist.gov, the National Institute of Science and Technology web site and clicking on 'Time and Frequency.'

You can see that it doesn't take much to clutter the Windows desktop.

If you have special needs, like supporting a hobby, go to a search engine like Google and look for these little programs. You will be surprised at what's available.

If you would like to hear more about special purpose programs, or other computer topics, visit "Coffee and Computers" at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. 'C' Street, any Friday morning from 9 a.m. until noon. Bring your questions or just come in and visit.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.

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Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: www.arholub.com. This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at: doc@arholub.com.


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