Computer Life
Wilmington News Journal
The Archives

Here they are. The complete and unexpurgated columns going back to February 1997.

If there's one you'd like to nominate for the Readers' Favorites page go to the nomination form.

 

June 12, 1999
Pre-publication
Draft
Viral Marketing
Another example of how the 'Net amplifies things. In this case, it's word of mouth advertising carried to the extreme....
June 5, 1999
Pre-publication
Draft
All I want for graduation is a PDA
Actually, I'm not sure I'd really buy my kid a PDA for graduation, but a PDA plus a desktop computer would be cheaper than buying him a laptop!
May 29, 1999
Pre-publication
Draft
Reflections on a power outage
There I sat, in my darkened office, bathed in the eery glow of a laptop whose battery was slowly draining.....
May 15, 1999
Pre-publication
Draft
Web Can Make You An Expert
Amazing what the web will let you find--in this episode, the Web allowed your columnist to masquerade as an expert in Japanese computing .
May 8, 1999
Pre-publication
Draft
Star Wars: The Game
Oh boy! A Star Wars computer game! Well, my 4th grader likes SimTown better.
May 1, 1999
Pre-publication
Draft
What is Reality?
Would you pay over $1,000 for a sign-on into an on-line game?
April 24, 1999
Pre-publication
Draft
A Fable About Boundaries
Not available yet in this country, I found the latest Harry Potter book on-line in England!
April 17, 1999
Pre-publication
Draft
Web Walk!
This time we visit ESPN's NFL draft site after visits to several amusing sites.
April 10, 1999
Pre-publication
Draft
Free PCs?
Of all the deals for "Free PCs," the one from Gobi seems most forthright and realistic.
April 3, 1999
Pre-publication
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Sweet Melissa
It's our behavior, our insistence on valuing alleged convenience over safety, that allows macro viruses like Melissa to spread so quickly via e-mail.
March 20, 1999
Pre-publication
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Long Campaign Trail
I've been a fan of the flat tax for over a decade. But I'll still poke fun at Steve Forbes's slow web site--and his e-precinct captains had better not SPAM me! And as a technology professional, I'm grateful for Al Gore's support of the Internet. But to claim he initiated it?!?! It's March 1999 and the 2000 campaign has already begun on-line.
March 13, 1999
Pre-publication
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Why it's called Computer Life
I wanted to call this column "Poor Richard's Computer." But it's pretty clear that the computer IS my life.
March 6, 1999
Pre-publication
Draft
Madness Marches To The Net
Not to encourage office pools, illegal gambling or the like.... But you can enter a lot of legal March Madness contests on the Web! Wonder if I'll win that $1,000,000 prize for picking the winners of all 63 games in the NCAA basketball tournament.
February 27, 1999
Pre-publication
Draft
20 Minutes About Computing
I was supposed to give an after-lunch talk about computing last month. It was cancelled due to the weather, but here's an outline of what I would have said!
February 20, 1999
Pre-publication
Draft
The Time Trap: What Price Perfection?
Don't get me wrong, I love how much cool stuff I can do with my computer. However, I've noticed that computer tasks gobble up time because one thing leads to another OR because perfection seems within my grasp if I make just one more change.....
February 13, 1999
Pre-publication
Draft
Some Things Never Change
I've been writing this column for two years--some things haven't changed a bit. For example, 1989, 1997, 1999--it doesn't matter--it's always harder to convince your bosses or the taxpayers to pay for technology training than it is to convince them to let you buy a computer. Specifically, this article points out that it's not just schools that have trouble integrating technology into the work flow.
January 30, 1999
Pre-publication
Draft
Mailbag: Mac to Windows and ISPs
In which your correspondent makes like an advice comulmnist and answers some of his mail!
January 23, 1999
Pre-publication
Draft
Web Walk!
I hadn't shared some of the "unusual" sites I've visited since October. This time, we track movie trailers, sunsets, and saints.
January 16, 1999
Pre-publication
Draft
Internet Amplifies Human Nature
This week, we look at how e-mail has allowed us to share our thoughts with larger communities--often to good effect.
January 9, 1999
Pre-publication
Draft
The Year 2000: Biggest Tech Story of 1999
As threatened, this week you correspondent does some crystal ball gazing.
January 2, 1999
Pre-publication
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Good-bye 1998
In which your correspondent looks back on a year that brought the $1000 PC, Apple rising like a phoenix, and a German couple going for a swim. Happy New Year!
December 19, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Tech Help for Shoppers
The malls are packed, the prices are crazy, and the parking lots are wild. This week, we mention a device that might help on next year's trip to the mall, a story about a pager, and an Urban Legend.
December 5, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Shopping Season
Amidst all the hype, you have to know there are some times you just have to go to the store to shop. Me? I'll be shopping on line and at the Mall--the World Wide Wait and long lines. Oh boy....
November 21, 1998
Pre-publication
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Deal with the devil?
I just learned of a company that will give 15 free computers to your school. Cool! But there's a catch....
November 7, 1998
Pre-publication
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Whoops! at abcnews.com
ABC News tested some election day Web things a day early. How silly to have done it on the production Web pages!! Also, your reporter calls for comments on toy shopping on-line. Only 48 more shopping days 'til Xmas.
October 31, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Another Web Walk
This time, we visit a woman's e-zine, two space exploration sites, and then the usual silly Web sites.
October 24, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Basement bargains a double-edged sword
I've noticed that the big companies have quit buzzing about the "sub-$1,000 PC"--most of their entry-level systems are priced between $1,500 and $1,800. But you can find sub-$1,000 systems--if you're willing to buy technology from the last ice age (winter, just last winter).
October 17, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Get over your fears
I'm still amazed at the number of computerphobes I run into in my travels throughout New Castle County. Get with the program, folks! Computing will be part of your life whether you want it to be or not.
October 10, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
On the road to Mandalay
I didn't really take an exotic bus trip. But I had a lot of driving to do, so I thought I'd test out some of the on-line map services.
October 3, 1998
Pre-publication
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Return to Buying A Computer
Not this topic again! Yes, again. Because "What should I buy?" is still the number one question I hear!
September 26, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
The signs are all around us
The end is nigh! The sky is falling! I have to use a computer!
September 19, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Public Information on the Public Web
In which you author tries to point out the good in the Starr report: that it's an example of public information going on line efficiently and effectively.
September 12, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Tulips: A 17th-Century Craze Goes On-Line
It's Fall, when a good homeowner's fancy should turn to bulb catalogs. OK, so your correspondent ended up looking for a 17th-Century Tulip Book on line instead of shopping for 21st-Century perennials.
August 29, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Watching Bonnie On The Web
Sorry, kid. No hurricane is going to keep you from doing your schoolwork! In which your correspondent reveals his family's favorite weather sites.
August 22, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
WebWalk!
Another random tour of some of the Web sites I've visited this month. "How much would I 'weigh' on Jupiter?", "Who's on First?", fractured translations, and other oddities.
August 15, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Mad At Computer Ads
You have to pay close attention to those computer ads. That unbelievably low price may include a rebate offer on something you don't intend to buy, and the ad may "hide" which processor is in the computer.
August 8, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Aces full, son, how 'bout you?
In which your correspondent was shocked to find that it took less time to place a bet on the Phillies than it did to order pants from Lands End.
July 18, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Going once, going twice, hope the price is nice
The pros and cons of on-line auctions.
July 11, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Bargain Hunters Beware
Every three months or so, the demand for another column about buying a computer seems to build up. This time, I marvel at the inexpensive systems available, but caution about getting help after the sale.
July 4, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Meandering by Gettysburg, the Bard, and Bierce
It had been a while since I've wandered around the Web. We celebrate the 135th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, then get rather silly.
June 27, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
A Web Site Lovely As A Tree
After a week off, I manage to refer to Ogden Nash, LadyBird Johnson (obliquely), and the 'Net in one fell swoop. And it's all about ads.....
June 13, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Going to the dogs
Spay or neuter that pet! Oh, wait, this is a computer column. In this episode, your correspondent talks about how the Net has helped some pet rescue/adoption services.
June 6, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
No pager? No e-mail? Any life?
Sometimes we play with our gadgets too much. Like me 'n' my soccer spreadsheets. Like me 'n' my cell phone. Like a lot of people and their pagers. Oh, and it's thunderstorm season. Back up your files!
May 30, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Eyewitness News in my Inbox
Just before Suharto resigned, I got e-mail from the jungles of Indonesia. Nothing earth-shattering, but it was very cool to get a first person report from a friend on the scene.
May 23, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Microsoft is not the Evil Empire
It's been a tough last month for Mr. Gates' little software house--PR-wise at least. But as much fun as it can be to bash Mr. Microsoft, even I admit to being a generally happy user of Microsoft's wares.
May 16, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Keeping Up On-Line
I'm really just a mouthpiece for the experts--or so I tell people. But here are some of the Web sites I visit to stay up on the latest techno-trends.
May 9, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Decoding Internet Addresses
One of those instructional columns! If you can reach this Web page, you may not need this tutorial--but I bet you know someone who does.
May 2, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Weird Web Science and more!
This month's Web Walk makes a long stop at the kitchen sink. Seriously!
April 25, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
College Means Computing
It's not just at The University of Delaware. Just about every university, college, junior college, and trade school curriculum requires H.S. graduates to compute without fear!
April 18, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Mowing down the right computer purchase
You always buy a lawnmower to cut your grass. Why are you buying a computer? What do you want to do with it? Ask yourself those questions before you and your checkbook go shopping for a computer.
April 4, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Birds sing, buds open, prices drop
I've noticed that this is the time of year when computer prices take a big plunge most years. This year is no exception. You can always wait, but if you want to buy, now's a good time--well, in my opinion.
March 28, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
E-Mail from my crockpot
Am I a crackpot to want to communicate with my crockpot? Imagine getting e-mail from your slow cooker so you'd know when to send the bread machine a note that it should get busy.
March 21, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
On-Line Groceries Aren't For All
On-line grocers are coming. Cool, convenient, but not for me yet. However, I did save $9 at my neighborhood grocery with coupons I downloaded from the Web.
March 14, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Zipping along the Web Trail
It's been a while since I've just surfed the Web: Zippers, the Iditarod, and other frivolity.
March 7, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
The Net, the People, the Students
I tried an unscientific experiment that amazed me: over 80% of the ads in Newsweek had Web addresses on them. Made me worry about the kids in school today, which led me to editorialize on a local school bond referendum.
February 28, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Virus hoaxes
"Can my computer really catch a virus from the power line? If I read an e-mail message with the subject 'Bad Times' will my ex- really get a copy of my bank statement?" There are a lot of silly-sounding and serious-sounding virus warnings floating around the 'Net. Most are hoaxes. But use your virus scanning software anyway.
February 21, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Twenty-one seconds of fame
In which your humble reporter speculates about why a Philadelphia TV station portrayed him as an Internet Addict. Hey, it sells commercials, right?
February 14, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow...
There are risks to meeting people on the 'Net. However, in honor of St. Valentine's Day, here are the stories of two couples who met on-line and lived happily ever after.
February 7, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
I confused you!: Graphics files re-explained
"Well, son, it was nice to download your column, and see a slice of your life, but neither your mother nor I understood a word of it." Well, Dad, you weren't the only one to be confused by last week's column. Let's try again.
January 31, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Terms of imaging
"I have a picture I want to send you in e-mail." Oo boy. This week, I try to help a reader understand more about graphics files.
January 24, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
The 1-2-3s of ISPs
Actually, I counted up to 10--and there are plenty more things to think about before switching (or choosing) and Internet Service Provider. My advice? Ask other people with which ISPs they are having good luck.
January 17, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Even Easier than AOL
Hmmm. This is the third time I've talked about WebTV in less than a year. It's not suitable for everyone, but a "set-top, network computer" may well be the Thing That Makes The Net Truly Accessible. VolksWebben?
January 10, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
Web walk: if I were a teenager
In this month's semi-random web walk, we visit, among others, some Web sites of interest to the teens in your family.
January 3, 1998
Pre-publication
Draft
School info on line, but visit if you can
In Delaware, families can participate in a school choice program. The week before choice applications are due, we discuss three Web sites that can help with the decision. But there's no replacement for a live, in-person visit.
December 20, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
A real shopping trip
"'Twas the Saturday 'fore Christmas, and all through the house. . . ." Mass Music wins my informal test panic shopping trip for music CDs. Happy Holidays, all!
December 13, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
Hey Mister, Hey Mister! What should I do?
In which I do a Dear Abby imitation and offer advice in response to reader questions.
December 6, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
December Web Walk: Shop 'til you drop
For holiday shopping, sometimes the mall is best, sometimes catalogs, but sometimes the Web is the place to shop!
November 29, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
A pair of holiday shopping tips
  1. Check with the recipient first--surprise gifts sometimes don't work.
  2. Be cautious if you are contemplating the purchase of a new computer. Prices and speeds may change more in the next 6 months than at any time in the past 2 years.
November 22, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
Caveat Emptor Applies On Line
This week, we learn how to judge the credibility of Web sites.
November 15, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
How to mend our ways
So, you don't want what happened to me to happen to you? Fine, here are some more specific suggestions about backing up your work. You don't have to back up all your files; just the ones you want to keep.
November 8, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
Repent, and your data shall be saved!
Not even I listened to my own advice (7/26/97) about backing up files. Verily, verily I say unto you, listen and learn from this sinner. Do all such back-ups as you ought or thou, too, shall suffer anguish.
November 1, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
Searching 101
In which I answer several readers' requests to go over the basics of searching on the Web.
October 25, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
New this winter: Down-filled CPUs?
My son didn't believe that anyone is really making wearable computers. I showed him a picture and even he thought they were cooller than cool.
October 18, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
Kid Stuff
In this month's stroll around the Web, I point at about 10 sites I plan to visit with my 3rd Grader. And I barely scratched the surface....
October 11, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
What would Miss Manners say?
In which your columnist apologizes to an offended reader, then introduces you to "Netiquette"--on-line etiquette.
October 4, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
Have you heard the one about....?
In which your columnist replies to a reader's e-mail about "private spamming"--the indiscriminate forwarding of every witty thing you find on the Net.
September 27, 1997
Comparison car shopping gets easier
Station Wagons, Ho! I wonder if folks travelling the Oregon Trail would have used the Web--if it had been invented in 1842, that is.
September 20, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
Just for fun
In which your columnist reveals his warped sense of humor by frolicking through the Web.
September 13, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
The $1000 Computer? Not Yet!
It's getting closer and closer, but you still need to spend about $1,500 to get a complete system.
September 6, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
SPAM
Scourge of the Net or marketing boon? For most of us, it is a plague we pray does not invade our inboxes.
August 30, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
Software is good, but your time is better
It's easy to find hundreds of dollars worth of cool software for every school age boy and girl. But don't think that buying Reader Rabbit is a substitute for spending time with your small scholars.
August 16, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
Copyright and copy wrong
On-line copyrights are a tad more complicated than "Don't copy that floppy!"
August 9, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
Surrendering to Internet addiction
I used to be a TV addict. Now, however.....
August 2, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
Hi-Tech gifts can match a lot of interests
It was just after my birthday, so I mused about gift-giving. Boils down to this: ASK before you give someone a hi-tech gift.
July 26, 1997
Sooner or later, you'll back up your files
In which the author tries to get you to Do The Right Thing, then further angers his fellow Macintosh users.
July 19, 1997
You never know who'll be on the Web
I was amazed at how much of a trail I've left on the 'Net--perhaps you can follow a trail of electrons to find a long lost friend.
July 5, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
Celebrate the Fourth: E-Mail Your Representative
Yeah, I wrote a patriotic column! The Net lets us get more information more quickly from our elected officials and give them more feedback.
June 28, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
The Last Mac Holdout
Look. I still love my Macintosh computer. But even I can see the large print on the wall.
June 21, 1997
Pre-publication
Draft
Great Expectations
Looking back at a 1985 computing mag shows how much some things have changed--and how much some things have stayed the same.
June 14, 1997 High-tech tinkerers need ethics
There's a little hacker in most of us, so "Teach your children well" about those "Castles made of sand."
June 7, 1997 Computer beats an old encyclopedia
I fondly remember grazing in the encyclopedia when I was a kid, but, boy, am I glad my son could do his research project on line!
May 31, 1997 With e-mail it's easier to stay in touch
I felt like explaining e-mail so that even my mother could conceptualize it. Did I succeed?
May 17, 1997 Deep Blue's win doesn't mean doom
Deep Blue beats Kasparov at chess, proving that many creative minds are better than just one--not proving that the machine is mightier than the man.
May 10, 1997 Net makes 'snail mail' connection
Our fearless columnist visits his son's school, braves the cafeteria, and--thanks to the Net--helps with a lesson.
May 3, 1997 Picking a PC that will last to graduation
Your college-bound kid about to graduate from high school? Thinking of a computer as a commencement gift? My recommendation is ....
April 26, 1997 Oh, all the trouble with upgrading!
I thought I'd get this cool software for $99. $517 later....
April 19, 1997 Precautions can keep viruses out
In which the author is confronted by a loaded carrot and urged to get the word out: "Protect your computer from viruses."
April 12, 1997 Out of the bedroom, into the den
In which we learn where people's computers live and how Microsoft is trying to capitalize on the trend.
April 5, 1997 Net can be a learning tool for children
Don't let the title fool you: this article is about free speech, cyber parenting, Webcrawler, and 2nd graders.
March 29, 1997 Which Net magazine is right for you?
In which the phrase "smashing pumpkins" helps Delawareans pick a mag about the Net.
March 22, 1997 Why have a computer? Here's why!
One day in the life of an average home computer....
March 15, 1997 Tax software shortens the annual chore
Tax prep software? Yes! On-line research? Yes! Electronic filing? No, thank you. Just go online before you stand in line.
March 8, 1997 NCAA's new way: Nothin' but the Net
Join an Internet NCAA Hoops Contest.
March 1, 1997 Addicted to the World Wide Wait
Have you been Sludged by the Net?
February 22, 1997 Is half a Web better than no Web at all?
Is WebTV for you?
February 15, 1997 Internet's not a place, it's a process
Internet Basics -- Or how to tell your parents what the Internet really is.
February 8, 1997
The first column
Even MMX is a future dinosaur
Is the computer you just bought out of date? Yes! But if it's useful, don't worry about it.


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