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A Beginner’s Guide to Saving an Old Computer

(This is the text of my weekly Loose Wire Service column, written mostly for newcomers to personal technology, and syndicated to newspapers like The Jakarta Post. Editors interested in carrying the service please feel free to email me.) What should you do with an old laptop that is so slow you have time to down a cup of coffee while it gets ready? A reader wrote to me recently: “I would be very grateful for your advice on how to make my very old (1999?) Toshiba Satellite 2545CDS laptop work faster and less erratically.” His symptoms may be familiar to you: “Composing this message inContinue readingA Beginner’s Guide to Saving an Old Computer

Playing the Software Pirates at Their Own Game

In the last post I prattled on about how Microsoft et al didn’t get it when it comes to dealing with piracy. So what should they do? I don’t know what the answer is, but I’d like to see a more creative approach. After all, these pirates have an extraordinary delivery mechanism that is much more efficient than anything else I’ve seen. Why not try an experiment whereby a user who buys counterfeit software, either knowingly or unknowingly, has six months’ grace period in which to ‘activate’ a legitimate version? This could be done online by a key download and a credit card. No bigContinue readingPlaying the Software Pirates at Their Own Game

This week’s column – ActiveWords

This week’s Loose Wire column is about ActiveWords. Here’s an excerpt: I’M ABOUT TO TELL YOU about one of those software programs that could save you some serious slogging. So if you’re a lawyer or someone else who bills for your time, then you may want to skip this week’s column. But if you’re interested in getting more out of your computer by doing less, then you should buckle up and read on. Full text at the Far Eastern Economic Review (subscription required, trial available) or at WSJ.com (subscription required). Old columns at feer.com here.

Organizing Software For The Mac

I recently wrote about outlining software in my column (recommending for Windows users, among others. MyInfo and Jot+). Now here’s a recommendation from a reader for Mac users: Sticky Brain. From the blurb: “StickyBrain elegantly handles all the miscellaneous tidbits of information which don’t cleanly fit in other software programs like your contact manager or word processor. Rather than have this information scattered everywhere including on your desk, StickyBrain provides the central location for it all.” It actually looks very good.  

Software: Grokster Goes Pro

 If you haven’t heard of it before, it sounds like something painful that happens to a guy in his mid 40s, or a vital piece of plumbing under the sink, but Grokster is actually a file-sharing program, and it’s going pro. From its haven in the West Indies, the company has released a $20 version “in response to a growing user demand and willingness to pay for a version of the software that is void of annoying pop-up ads and the cluster of optional software  programs that accompany all of the major P2P software clients on the market today.” (In English that means the free version thatContinue readingSoftware: Grokster Goes Pro

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