- The Washington Times - Monday, October 16, 2000

Need some ideas for your next shopping trip to the computer? Consider these, all of which are designed for use with Microsoft Windows:

JASC Paint Shop Pro 7.0: If you need to work with photos scanned-in from prints or negatives as well as digital images this program is for you. It recognizes and supports 50 different image file formats (so you can convert PNG to TIFF to GIF, if need be) and it offers a host of editing features.

Users can enhance digital photos with automatic filters including color balance, contrast/ brightness, and saturation, as well as eliminate "red eye" from digital snaps. Damaged photos can be restored with scratch removal tools, and images can be converted into logos and for use in presentations. There's also an animation program to make moving images for Web pages and the like.

What I enjoyed was the program's ease of use and comprehensiveness. While there are high-end photo editing programs for professionals and serious amateurs, Paint Shop Pro 7.0 should fill most of your digital imaging needs at a very reasonable and affordable price.

One flaw worth correcting in a future release: there's no way, in this software, to show a bunch of photos as a slide show. JASC makes a separate, $39, program called Media Center Plus for that function, among others. Perhaps the two should be merged, but in my view, the slide show feature cries out for addition to Paint Shop Pro.

More details on these programs can be found at www.jasc.com.

Easy CD Creator: Does your PC have a CD-writer? If so, you need Easy CD Creator 4.0, from Roxio Inc., the former software unit of Adaptec Inc.

The program lets users create data or audio CDs and make personal CD labels, covers and inserts. The Deluxe version, which I tested, includes the "CD Spin Doctor" utility, for converting tapes and LPs (remember those?) to CDs and improving sound quality. Another utility, Take Two, is for system backup and disaster recovery, while a third, Photo Relay, can be used to create photo and HTML albums, as well as video postcards.

Even though my CD-RW drive was supplied with capable software, the Easy CD Creator Deluxe package, which sells for $89, made using my drive more enjoyable overall. It's worth your consideration, especially if making CDs is your passion or necessity.

WinZip 8.0: If you need to send (or receive) compressed files, there's no better product than the $29 WinZip 8.0, from WinZip Computing Inc. (www.winzip.com).

This time-tested program is an ideal way to handle "ZIP" files, as well as create them for sending via the Internet. File compression can save disk space and e-mail transmission time while retaining all the elements of file.

The new "Zip and E-Mail" feature of this version will zip a document and attach it to an e-mail message without leaving Internet Explorer. An enhanced "Wizard" feature can now create and update zip files, as well as extract and install from MIME and similar encoded files. Improvements to the WinZip Classic interface make it more Windows-like; an optional Explorer-style toolbar is available.

Norton Systemworks 2001: This utility suite is like a checkup for your PC, whether it's running Windows 95/98, Windows Millennium, Windows NT or Windows 2000. The standard edition of the program, priced at $59.95, includes Norton AntiVirus 2001, Norton Utilities 2001, Norton CleanSweep 2001 and Norton Web Services, which is an Internet-based service powered by ZDNet Updates for problem solving, self-help and extended support services. The $99.95 "professional" edition adds two other programs, Norton Ghost 2001 and WinFax 10.0 Basic Edition, to provide small businesses and power users convenient system migration/backup and fax capabilities.

New this year is an improved "LiveUpdate" feature that automatically senses an open Internet connection, then checks for and automatically retrieves and installs any available virus definition updates, making sure users get the most up-to-date protection against malicious code. A new "SmartScan" technology finds all files with executable code that must be scanned for viruses, thus eliminating the need to scan all files in the system, providing unmatched protection and performance.

SmartScan also improves file-scanning performance and significantly reduces system impact resulting from constant background monitoring for viruses in AutoProtect. Norton SystemWorks 2001 continues to scan e-mail automatically as it is received, detecting viruses in attachments before the user accesses the attachment, eliminating the risk of unknowingly forwarding the virus to others.

These are a few of a host of features that you'll frankly need if you want to keep your PC safe and sound. It's worth investigating and buying.

• Write to Mark Kellner in care of The Washington Times, Business Desk, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; send e-mail to [email protected], or visit the writer's Web page, www.markkellner.com.

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