Jewish World Review July 1, 2004 / 13 Tamuz 5764

Independence Day Thoughts on computing

By Mark Kellner | Coming next weekend is the 228th anniversary of American independence. And while Thomas Jefferson couldn't have dreamed of e-mailing the Declaration of Independence to King George III (what kind of "spam" filter might the palace have had?), there's certainly a fair amount to reflect on computer-wise as it relates to independence.

One form of independence is having external storage devices. The favorite, it seems, is the external hard disk drive, such as the Maxtor OneTouch USB 2.0 drive. A test unit arrived recently with a 160 Gigabyte hard disk installed. Retail price will be between $199 and $210 depending on where you shop.

The Maxtor is actually destined to be part of another hardware test, of which more to come later; but on its own the concept is interesting: set up the appropriate software, plug in the drive, press a button and - bingo - your computer data and programs are backed up in one step.

That's the ideal, and it's something I'll test soon. Transferring a 350 MB file from desktop to backup took about 2 minutes using USB, and while that's not blazingly fast, it's good enough for my purposes. (Those in a mad dash for speed can find the Maxtor One-Touch drive in a FireWire, or IEEE 1394, version that should blaze along pretty quickly.)

Overall, however, the Maxtor One-Touch offers sleek styling and easy usage: there's an on/off switch in the back, the backup switch on the front is separate and impossible to miss. The USB connection is reliable, and there's plenty of software, including backup programs, that come with the drive. More information is online at

Donate to JWR

DO I HAFTA? That's a question many kids used to ask when confronted with a household chore or the first day of school. It's also one posed to me, implicitly, by an e-mail correspondent last week.

The writer is a Mac fan, but was ruefully contemplating a move to a Windows notebook PC because their spouse was collaborating with a die-hard Windows user on a project. Fair enough, but, as I told them, it's not vital.

Macs are very, very PC-friendly these days - something mentioned here before. The new version of Microsoft Office 2004 ( for information) for the Mac is thoroughly compatible with the Windows-based Office 2003, and earlier versions. Save a file, send it via e-mail or burn it on a CD and you're ready to roll. Incoming Windows-Word files have rarely posed a challenge to me when working on a Mac.

About the only hassle has been WordPerfect, and that only because you need a conversion program, such as MacLink Plus, mentioned here several times before, to make the switch. Or, maybe you don't. If a WordPerfect user saves a file in a Microsoft Word or "rich text" format, it should carry over from PC to Mac with little lost in translation; at worst, I've had to adjust some formatting on WordPerfect files that have made their way to my Mac desktop.

My bottom line advice, which may be useful for those shopping for back-to-school portables, is to stick to what you know best. If the Mac is your thing, try to stay there. In roughly 99 percent of cases, you'll find an easy way to accommodate the Windows users around you, until they come over to your way of thinking, of course.

Find this column useful? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

Still more about online e-mail
Your vacation e-mail options
Mr. Reagan's Computing Legacy
Following your heart
Power Mac G5: A powerful tool
Opera: This browser sings
Motion's new tablet a step up
Fuji's S20PRO is for you — maybe
Last week's small revolution
More small wonders bring delight, challenge
Livin' large, livin' cordless
Small wonders: Gadgets good and bad
The right tool for the right job
Office 2004 for Mac is coming
Good Computer Info? It's In Print
'Office' suite good for price
The Delightful Deja Vu of the iPod Mini
Another check creation option
Blocking pop-up ads
Apple's super-cool iBOOK G4
MSN, the AOL alternative?
It's Konfabu-lous (and other Mac joys)
The world on my wrist, courtesy MSN
Treo 600 is great business tool
How to make good computer choices this year
The year behind, the one ahead
Last minute gifts, and other thoughts
Something special in the air, again
Veterans Admin plans computer revolution
More holiday gifts
Holiday Shopping Ideas (One of a Series)
Now, Mr. Gates Joins War on Spam
Stopping "Phishers" From Scamming You
Staying safe online
Franklin Covey Brings Order to Outlook
Upgrades: Should you do it?
Time to dump Ma Bell?
Palm T3 widens users' options
Electronic reading
Lessons from a hurricane
Can the PC and phone really merge?
The case of the curious keyboard
The season ahead
New keyboard adds flair to motion tablet
Upgrade path smoothes a bit
Dreamweaver, make me a web
Experiments in upgrading
A tale of two headsets
A declaration of Mac-dependence
Fuji's Fine FinePix S602Zoom
In search of good Mac apps
Little gadgets make computing easier
Adobe Acrobat 6.0 scores
Toshiba's Twisting Tablet PC
HP printer a steady worker
iTunes store, Mailblocks are cool online services
Palm's objects of D-Zire
Gateway's Tablet a winner
Outlook 2003 beta: A promising program
Tungsten's handy "Dubya"
Lexmark's winning all-in-one
Wireless ways
Long distance tech support does trick
Tablet Planner software a hit
Up and down the road with Joyride
Clarion's "AutoPC" is no "Joyride"
Apple's Keynote is PowerPoint for less
Moving adventures
Traveling companions
HP's Compaq Tablet PC a winner
The war on spam continues
Browser for Mac users has good start
New Adobe software organizes photos
The year the PC grew up
PC meets philately: one hit, one miss
Digital Nikon camera a winner, at a price
Honey, they shrunk the COMDEX
Last-minute ideas
Microsoft's Tablet PC has promise, problems
Upgrade with a plan
Palm's New Tungsten PDA Shows Its Mettle
Nobody asked me, but ...
Love, in Quicktime
T-Mobile's sidekick a good partner
Put on a (happy, unwrinkled, tanned, whatever) face
Apple software upgrade very useful
I came, I saw, iPod
How's that? A tech critic reflects, briefly
Satellite radio gets favorable reception
HP's desktop printing marve
Mac satisfaction --- and some really good software
Off to college ... with eMachines
Have PC, must travel
After Shot manages your digital camera images
X200: Mobile worker's fantasy
Beware: Consumers face a fee for printing own checks

© 2004 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at