Jot+ is a new version of a nice, simple note-taking program that can handle anything from taking down a name and address to your latest novel.

At US$30, it’s a lot cheaper than Microsoft’s One Note, which lists for US$180, or InfoSelect, which is US$250. Of course, it doesn’t do all the tricks

that those programs do, but we’re talking basic utility here. Jot+ does outlines, but with a plus.

The outlines expand as you create and click on each heading, and the headings can contain an unlimited amount of information. You can put a whole novel into a heading that is only part of a larger outline. Like a tree, the outline grows, with branches and leaves, and at its core is a solid trunk.

A tree structure is what you see if you call up the whole subject. But these trees can get huge as you keep adding information, thoughts, musings and literary arabesques. So you can search Jot+ with Boolean “”and/or”” modifiers, and you can create shortcut keystrokes to take you quickly to a particular place.

We use this program for maintaining our list of reviewable products, but it can be used for addresses, club memberships, recipes, to-do lists, etc. It’s easy to read, easy to use, easy to edit, and there’s a free trial version. Find out more at www.kingstairs.com.

GONNA SWEEP THAT SPY RIGHT OUT OF MY HAIR

Spy Sweeper, from Webroot, is the right tool for rubbing out spies these days. The first time we ran Spy Sweeper it found more than 800 “”traces”” on Joy’s computer and 30 on Bob’s supposedly “”isolated”” computer. (Joy’s computer was less than a month old.)

A trace is a piece of software that tracks the way a program is executed and keeps a record of that sequence for later viewing. Spy Sweeper can detect over 4,500 “”traces.”” Many computers have over a thousand.

Not all traces are harmful. Some are benign or even essential for running a particular program. To handle situations like that, Spy Sweeper quarantines the traces it finds and if you subsequently find you can’t run some program you can restore that trace.

After doing a sweep, Spy Sweeper can be set to immunize your system against further attempts to place traces, spyware or hijacks. There is a free trial version that works fine, but can’t be updated; a full version is $30 from the Web site: www.webroot.com.

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO SPRINT

NewsGator is a program that scans newspapers, news groups and blogs for the latest news on any subject.

It works very well, but as with any search tool, be careful what you ask for and how you ask it. If you ask for the latest “”news,”” you’ll get over a thousand sources, from The New York Times to some guy musing on world events in his personal blog. To avoid drowning in the news you need to choose categories, like medicine, trade, technology, business, etc.

NewsGator comes in a version for $5 a month that lets you do key word searches. The results here are not what you might expect. The search is very literal. Searching on “”Intel”” we got 179 news “”feeds,”” but the news covered intellectual property rights, artificial intelligence and in short, anything with the letters “”intel”” in the subject area. On the other hand, when we searched for news on “”Ford”” or “”General Electric,”” two of the largest corporations in the world, we got no news.

There’s a US$29 version of NewsGator that works only with Microsoft Outlook. There are about 2 1/2 million blogs, but this program looks through only the most popular weblogs. The results are surprisingly interesting and come in your e-mail. A lot more info at www.newsgator.com.

LIGHTS OUT, OR NOT?

The subject of whether or not to turn off your computer has come up again. In other words, is it safer, nicer, cleaner or more politically correct to turn off your computer when you’re through using it, or to leave it chortling to itself while you go party or whatever?

A couple reporters we knew in Philadelphia hadn’t turned their computer off for several years. The Bob half of this reporting duo is more conscientious than that and turned his computer off overnight just a few months ago. The Joy half turns hers off every night. There seems to be no difference in the computer’s reliability or useful lifespan. When newer computers are left on without being used, they usually go into “”sleep mode”” and use far less electricity than the light bulb in a refrigerator.

INTERNUTS

www.microsoft.com/athome: An interesting site and not at all what you would expect. It’s divided into three areas: “”have more fun,”” “”get more done”” and “”stay in touch.”” In each category there are relevant tips and links to other sites. You can click and go to www.thehairstyler.com, for example, upload your photo, and see how it looks in hundreds of styles. The At Home site also has publishing templates for creating newsletters.

At www.allcoastsportfishing.com: Shop and chat: The site has bulletin boards with the latest news and tips from fishermen, and you can buy just about any kind of equipment here. There is news of sport fishing in several countries, and despite the “”all coasts”” wording in the Web address, it also carries fishing news for Lake Michigan.

www.nostalgiccandy.com: Ever wonder what happened to candy cigarettes? How about candy lipstick, bubble gum crayons, wax lips and fangs? You can buy them here, and a wide selection of other candies you no longer see in most stores.

At www.toptenreviews.com: Has side-by-side feature comparisons between similar types of software, such as photo editors or spyware checkers.

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