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Don Watkins

A Look Back - My Favorite Technology of 2005

By Don Watkins

 
 

 

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.

Hardware

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 technology.

Software

A great year for software that isn't really cutting edge but has a price point a lot lower than comparable software.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 checking out.

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 detailed look.

Spyware continued to be a major problem, finally surpassing spam. PCNet members preferred Aluria's Spyware Eliminator by far over my personal preference of Spy 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 message area and share your 2005 favorites.

-- Don Watkins

 

 

 

     
   
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