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Stories by Jon L. Jacobi

HP's OfficeJet Pro 276dw is a worthy inkjet alternative to small-office lasers

Inkjets, which are losing some of their cachet among consumers, are finding new jobs in small offices and workgroups. We've tested enough business models over the past couple of years to prove that a high-quality inkjet multifunction is faster and cheaper to operate than a comparably prices laser product in the sub-$500 space. A good place to start is with HP's $400 OfficeJet Pro 276dw. It is expensive to buy, but it's also an excellent inkjet multifunction whose enhanced manageability features lets it play nice even in the corporate environment. The 276dw also installs easily, produces nice output quickly, and ink costs are low.

Written by Jon L. Jacobi17 June 13 14:21

LaCie CloudBox: Compact drive tightly integrates with Cloud storage

The minimum "best practice" backup arrangement for your vital data is to maintain three copies of the data: the original, a local backup, and a second backup offsite. With LaCie's CloudBox NAS device, you simply back up to the ethernet-connected unit, which then automatically backs up to LaCie's own online backup service. But easy as it is, CloudBox is also expensive, capacity-challenged, and slower than average.

Written by Jon L. Jacobi03 Nov. 11 11:19

Use Linux-like virtual deskops with VirtuaWin

Anyone familiar with Linux is probably familiar with virtual desktops. If you're not, download VirtuaWin and take a look. This utility takes your Windows desktop, clones it up to nineteen times, then lets you switch between them. The idea is to keep a set of related programs or documents on each desktop to help organize things for people who leave lots of applications and documents open.

Written by Jon L. Jacobi28 Sept. 11 06:40

Able utility O&O DiskRecovery finds, restores lost data

Recovering data is no small deal -- as anyone who's lost some will attest. But with so many programs out there, it's had to choose. The latest version 7 of O&O's DiskRecovery ($100. feature-limited demo) is making a strong argument to be your first choice, although at $100 is pricing itself beyond trusted veteran software such as R-Studio Data Recovery and Active@ File Recovery.

Written by Jon L. Jacobi19 April 11 05:08

Lenovo Thinkpad X220

Lenovo's Thinkpad X220 ultraportable, replacing the X201, is sure to be a hit with ThinkPad fans -- as well as most everyone else. It's fast, light, has a great 12.5-inch display, and continues the company's tradition of superb input ergonomics with an innovative button-less touchpad and long-stroke keyboard. It also offers excellent battery life that you can stretch to a whopping 23 hours with a bottom-mounted battery slice. The downside? Not much really. The boxy, business-like appearance and somewhat cluttered keyboard deck might lack the sex appeal some users are looking for.

Written by Jon L. Jacobi26 March 11 09:12

TestDisk, PhotoRec fix disks, recover files

If you're a fan of character-based interfaces -- such as DOS -- and free data recovery, you're going to love TestDisk and its companion utility, PhotoRec (a brother program included in the TestDisk download). Both free programs run in a DOS box or from a command line and test, report on, fix common disk boot problems, and recover files from damaged hard drives. All this is done at low level, below the operating system.

Written by Jon L. Jacobi21 March 11 01:56

Digitize your movies

Analog movies can be the easiest--or the hardest--medium to digitize, depending on the format you're working with. While older camcorder and video formats such as 8mm and Hi8 or VHS and Betamax tapes are easy to transfer, digitizing film can be difficult at best.

Written by Jon L. Jacobi03 March 11 02:00

Digitize your documents

The space required to store paper documents can be a problem. Digitizing your documents renders them exquisitely portable--you can store an entire library on your e-book reader with ease. And because paper documents can be turned into editable computer documents, they become searchable. Compare typing "Roosevelt" in a search field with spending all day scanning microfiche and old newspapers by eye to research the Square Deal or the New Deal. The digital document is a boon to researchers the world over.

Written by Jon L. Jacobi03 March 11 01:58

Digitize your pictures

Today the digital camera is ubiquitous, but photos used to be taken by momentarily exposing something called "film" to light. Yes, film--the ode to photo-sensitive chemical reactions that produced all of the pictures made before 1990 or so. Those images were, and quite of­­ten still are, transferred to photo paper and pasted into coffee table al­­bums. Sometimes they were processed into transparent 35mm slides and projected onto white screens for everyone's en­­joyment (or boredom, depending).

Written by Jon L. Jacobi03 March 11 01:58

Digitize your music

In my lifetime, music has been delivered on vinyl, cassettes, eight-track tapes, CDs, and audio DVDs. How do I listen to it now? Usually with a PC or a smartphone, and occasionally with an MP3 or other media player. I downloaded much of that music or ripped it from CDs, but the rest of it came from LPs and cassettes.

Written by Jon L. Jacobi03 March 11 01:59

HP Mini 1103 netbook: Solid, old-school

The business-oriented HP Mini 1103 netbook is good-looking and solidly designed, and it has great battery life. Two years ago it would've earned high praise. Today it reminds us how inadequate Atom-based netbooks are for all but the most basic computing tasks. If the basics are all you need to cover, however, at $299 (as of February 28, 2011) this machine is a good deal with nice ergonomics.

Written by Jon L. Jacobi01 March 11 09:07

Secure flash drives lock down your data

Hollywood makes secure flash storage look easy. If the bad guy steals a thumb drive, it either blows up or some secret counterintelligence agency marshals the nation's resources in a no-holds-barred data hunt -- most likely with Bruce Willis or Tommy Lee Jones working the streets. If the good guy steals the drive, it goes to a special-needs, special-deeds sidekick in a basement somewhere who cracks the code in 5 minutes.

Written by Jon L. Jacobi14 Dec. 10 02:10

Optimize your router for VoIP and video

We're at an awkward stage as the age of network-streamed multimedia matures. Broadband and cell providers have only recently realized the public's enormous appetite for streaming video, VoIP, and the combination of both.

Written by Jon L. Jacobi10 Dec. 10 02:33

How to pick NAS for any business

Network-attached storage (NAS) can make your business easier to run and more efficient in multiple ways.

Written by Jon L. Jacobi05 Nov. 10 01:42

LG NAS adds Blu-ray Drive

LG's N4B1 NAS box is neither a comprehensive media server nor a particularly fast performer, but as a network-attached storage device, it's quick enough for home/small-business file serving. The unit — available for around $US700 — is also the sturdiest and quite possibly the best-looking such box I've had my hands on. You also can't beat it's HTML configuration interface for looks or ease of learning and use. But none of that compares to the N4B1's most outstanding feature: An integrated Blu-ray burner, unique among NAS products in the SMB/SOHO market.

Written by Jon L. Jacobi21 Nov. 09 12:00

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