Again I continue to keep my promise to no longer go
too far out on a limb. This was driven home this last year when I
tossed all the bleeding edge stuff I'd collected over the last 20
plus years that were complete duds.
Without a doubt the iPod has become THE device.
I've heard the numbers, can't recall them to the point I'll quote
them for fear of being inaccurate but they're incredible. Like with
any good piece of hardware there are plenty of software add-ons that
extend the function of the hardware.
iPod Access for Windows tops my list. Easily transfer songs from
your iPod to your PC. By utilizing the internal iPod database
without having to go fetch ID3 tags the transfers are fast and
include tag info from protected AAC files. iPod Access for Windows
features a great interface as well.
DVD to iPod Video Converter will convert a DVD, Tivo2Go and DivX
right to your iPod...and do it very quickly (some rendering software
is slower than can be believed). I don't know if I'll ever get used
to the smaller screen but I suspect next year I won't notice.
Not exactly iPod related but there is a
connection; Easy Radio allows you to capture broadcast radio, XM
radio and Podcasts with one click. Copy to your PC, MP3 player, iPod
or burn to CD. The media guide makes it easy to find stuff and you
can schedule recordings so you don't need to be at your PC in order
to capture them.
You'll find a lot of great and intensive studies
on this by far more capable folks than me (not to mention access to
a lot more hardware) but without going into complex and extensive
benchmarks complete with graphs and comparisons AMD has really blown me away with their new dual
core technology. I've been an Intel bigot since the first PC and the
only exception I can think of was trying a Zilog plug compatible
8088 in my original PC (it didn't work out all that well) but I
recently put together a X2 based system with (incredibly cheap) SATA drives that blows
away my $5k dual Xeon, 15k RPM SCSI based server and for a LOT less
money. I'm sold.
A word about SATA. If you go with SATA make sure
that the you use a motherboard with direct SATA support. Simply
installing a SATA board will not get you the full benefits of SATA
A great year for software that isn't really
cutting edge but has a price point a lot lower than comparable
For instance Image for Windows does everything,
well everything and more, than Ghost or True Image for less money.
You can get the full blow by blow
Don't have a complete backup or a backup at all or
the computer is trashed? Tsk, tsk, for shame but all is not over. My
vote for magic software of the year is Lifeboat. The way it can
recover files from a dead computer is simply magic to me and
Lifeboat gets my magic voodoo software award of the year. Details
Print screen/screen capture programs have been
around since the first days of the PC but Print Screen Deluxe really
extends the function of this class of programs. See the full review
Resizing partitions has always been tricky and
I've not had the best luck in the world until I found Disk Directory
Suite. It does a lot more than resize partitions, worth
I just love Virtual PC. I'm having a ball trying
out all the new operating systems out there without having to
reformat, do complex disk management, using exotic multiboot
software. Install something I don't like? Just a couple of clicks
and it's gone. Crash something? No problem, the host (I run it under
XP Pro) just keeps on chugging. Here's a
Spyware continued to be a major problem, finally
surpassing spam. PCNet members preferred Aluria's
Spyware Eliminator by far over my personal preference of
Sweeper. Both are good products.
I probably forgot something but there are lots of
Christmas toys to get back to so feel free to drop by the
area and share your 2005 favorites.
-- Don Watkins