Ghost 10 from Symantec, for Windows XP or 2000, is coming out just in time for Halloween. That’s the end of that connection because this program is going to delight rather than scare anybody.
Unlike Ghost 9, which was created for business users and requires some computer expertise to use effectively, Ghost 10 is aimed at the small business and home market. It’s designed for easy backups and quick restorations.
This last is going to make a lot of people happy, including us. It’s like a high-power version of Windows’ own System Restore function. If you find the computer acting strangely or just stuck in the digital mud, which we find a lot, Ghost 10 can return your computer to an earlier point and can recover all your files and programs. This works even when you can’t restart the computer’s operating system.
How does it do this? Well, it’s like the ghost in the machine, which is where the program name comes from. The program backs up everything on your computer, including music and photo files, with a one-button mouse click. It backs up to almost any media: external hard drives, tape, CDs, DVDs, etc. It makes these backups on the fly, and creates a recovery point whenever you install a new program.
If you have a Maxtor One Touch backup drive, and we have two of them, Ghost 10 will begin backing up just by touching the button on the Maxtor’s drive itself. The backup speed can be set by the user. If you want a fast backup, your computer use will be slowed while it takes place.
Symantec has something truly great here, and Bob says he hasn’t thought that in a long time. We love the screen button that simply says, “copy my hard drive.”
Screen capture tools
CaptureWizPro is a screen capture program for Windows that provides many of the same features as Tech Smith’s Camtasia.
You can capture a series of screens as video, useful for training, courses and presentations, or capture video itself off the Web. You can also capture mouse movements – as in the “then you click here” kind of instruction, with the mouse arrow showing where to click. The program will also capture audio, but we found the quality to be poor at the default setting. There’s a CD-quality setting for creating larger files, which is better.
Essentially, you can capture all or any part of a screen, a video or a PDF document, the last being difficult to do with almost any other tool. The captured material can be sent to a file, of course, or immediately e-mailed or printed. It can also be used as a so-called “sticky note” that displays comments or snips of information in a note on the screen, much like a 3M Post-It note.
CaptureWizPro is from the maker, PixelMetrics (www.pixelmetrics.com). The Camtasia program we mentioned from TechSmith (www.techsmith.com) is top-notch and has many more features than CaptureWizPro. We have reviewed several versions of it in the past, and you can see these on our Web site www.oncomp.com.
At www.podcastalley.com podcasts are like radio broadcasts, only they come in over the Internet instead of the airwaves. Here you can search by type: comedy, music, news, etc., and then choose from thousands of stations.
Free PDF conversion
You can convert a file into a PDF document for free by going to www.pdfonline.com. Like any PDF conversion, all your text and images remain as you laid them out. You go to the Web site, and while you’re connected, you can browse to the file you want on your own computer. Choose that file, and the folks at the Web site will do the rest; they’ll e-mail you the PDF shortly after they receive the file.