Plaxo is a free service that allows you to update the contacts you have in address books created with Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Mac OS-X, Palm, Netscape or Yahoo. That’s pretty much everybody.

When you join Plaxo (www.plaxo.com), your address book and appointment calendar information

can be made available online from anywhere you can connect to the Internet. Click "Update Contacts" and the Plaxo service sends a message to everyone on those lists asking them to update their information. With any luck, they’ll respond.

In the past, we’ve seen studies that say about one-third of the population of the United States will have moved within any two-year period, so it’s hard to keep up. In Canada some studies have shown that Canadians move because of careers, and that 44 per cent of people over 50 are likely to move.

The free service started in 2003, and so far more than four million people have signed up. For a fee of $20 a year, Plaxo has a new premium service that allows the user to send cards for birthdays, holidays and other special occasions. A number of extension services are being rolled out by this company, allowing you to send books, flowers and other gifts to selected people on your address list. Visit the Web site to find out everything they’re up to.

Remote Storage

It’s called IBackup (www.ibackup.com) and it’s where you can store all your data in another place in case your system goes blooey. (That’s a technical term for "wipeout.") This works equally well with Windows or Mac.

For as little as US$9.99 a month or US$150 a year, anyone with a valid e-mail address can have enough remote storage for 4GB of data. You can store it straight or encrypted, and you can access the data via the Web from anywhere. An architect noted that he went on the Web and shared an entire design plan with his client while he was in the client’s office.

This backup can be automated with a button click on your desktop screen. Choose incremental or full backup. Or you can drop" single files or folders. Your system starts backing up files as if you had another disk drive sitting right there on your desk. In fact, the backup is going to large storage drives at Pro Softnet Corp., in Woodland Hills, Calif. Very large backups may take several hours.

You can get 50 megabytes of remote storage for 30 days as a free tryout of the service. If you want to continue at that minimal level, the charge is $3 a month. From there prices go up gradually to US$800 a month for 100 gigabytes with some extra features, like backup and histories.

Something for your aunt

We talked this over, and Joy’s position prevailed. She maintained that some people would enjoy seeing online photos every day without having to buy a computer or step out of the house. She could just imagine her Aunt Dee being pleased as punch with an ever-changing display of online photos in a picture frame, one that Joy controlled from afar without Aunt Dee having to do a thing.

It’s the Ceiva 2 Digital Photo Receiver, US$150 from Ceiva Logic (www.ceiva.com). You plug it into any phone jack and photos from friends, family, whomever, are downloaded into the picture frame while you sleep. There’s a monthly charge of US$10 for that service, or US$100 for a year. That allows for automatic downloads of up to 30 photos a night. Photos can be uploaded to the frame by e-mail and from cell phones.

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