Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review March 16, 2001 / 21 Adar, 5761

The Computer Maven by James Derk

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Personal choices for the computer -- I GET e-mail all the time asking what product I use for this or that. I think people are seeking the holy grail of computing, that is the perfect system that only computer nerds use and vow to hide from everybody else.

It's not really like that. And to demystify the whole thing a little bit, I wanted to share with you what I use in my daily computing chores.

- My work computer: No real help there because I built it from parts. It has a 600 Mhz Pentium III processor, 128 megs of RAM and an HP CD-ROM burner. I also use a PowerMac to access the newspaper's Quark Publishing System. For printing, I fire up an old HP III or an HP DeskJet 660c for color.

- My home computer: A Dell Dimension with a 333 Mhz Pentium II. Not exactly a screamer anymore but it gets my work done. My monitor is a glorious Sony MultiScan 400ps that my dad recently got tired of. For speakers I use a Microsoft Digital Sound System 80 that, if turned up loud enough, can scare children. For printing I use a venerable HP 4p or a Deskjet 694c for color. For video capture, I use a Snappy; for a video card, I use a Diamond Viper II and a supplemental Monster II.

- My kids use a Microsoft EasyBall, a great trackball for children that is getting harder to find, for some reason. Their favorite games are consistently those produced by Humongous, including the Freddy Fish series.

- For word processing and office tasks, I use Microsoft Office, including Word and Excel. I still use Borland Paradox for a relational database because that's how I learned SQL; if I did it again today I'd use Microsoft Access. (For those on low budgets, I would download StarOffice for free and use that for word processing and the like. You can get it at

- For searching the Internet I use Google, so far the best tool I have found on the Web. Just type in the words you want to find and most likely it is on the first page ( I also use Excite's NewsTracker to find current headlines ( My portal is from Yahoo! (

- For online phonebooks, I use InfoSpace ( and Switchboard ( - For online travel, I use Expedia ( and Travelocity ( depending on who has the better price. Before I book with either, I often visit the airline's site and often find free mileage or a lower fare if I book direct.

- For an online shopping "bot," I use My Simon (, which checks the prices on hundreds of sites in a few seconds. Great for buying hot books, CDs, video games and other products in great demand.

(Note, I don't often buy the lowest price, but often the best combo of price and shipping, as well as reputation.)

- To find the newest live cams, I head to Earthcam (

WEEKLY WEB WONDER: Lots of free offers are available on the Net. Try Free2try ( for a great collection.

James Derk is computer columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. Comment by clicking here.


03/06/01: Apollo printers...CD problems...more
02/27/01: Good firewalls to keep your computer safe
02/12/01: How to set up a LAN party
01/30/01: Used computers... picture.exe...other problems
01/23/00: Cool computer tricks

© 2001 SHNS