Worried about a hacker finding sensitive information on your PC? Concerned that spies or co-workers might read something they shouldn’t? Folder Lock lets PC users lock, encrypt and password-protect any number of files and drives.

The protection works even if the locked files are taken from

one PC to another on a USB flash drive, floppy disk or any external drive. Files are protected from any virus attacks, worms and spyware, too. If you choose to delete the files you have locked, you can shred them so they can never be recovered. The new version includes the popular 256-Blowfish encryption code.

This was very easy to use. Just drag any file or folder you want to protect into a special lock-up folder created by Folder Lock. The file then becomes invisible to anyone who doesn’t have the password. You can choose your level of protection. Basic locking takes place in two seconds. Encryption is a little slower. To unlock, just click on the folder and type in your password. It’s free to try at www.newsoftwares.net.

The Watchman

Sometimes you want to stop unauthorized users from starting up certain applications, using chat rooms, installing software, or changing your system settings. In other words, a lock-down.

Watchman 6.1, is a new version of a program from Barcelona and it does just that. It even lets you create a message that pops up when someone can’t start a locked program. For instance: “Darn it, Martha, I told you not to use Internet Explorer to go online. Use Firefox.”

Watchman is free to try at www.anfibia-soft.com.

Burning DVDs

Cyberlink DVD Platinum Solution has a great Windows user interface. A short stack of four cubes appears on the right side of your desktop screen. The labels are self-explanatory: “Drag any file to make a data disk” (a CD), “drag audio files to make an audio CD,” “drag video files here to make a CD or DVD,” and the last one is “copy disk content onto another disk.” This is really straightforward. Select your source and click on what you want to do with the material.

Cyberlink DVD Platinum is available for under $100. Included in that is the earlier CyberLink DVD, which is just for watching movies through your computer. The Platinum version lets you burn CDs and DVDs, plus a lot more. You get software for making backups, burning digital video and snapshots directly to disk, editing software for video and photos, and burning music to disk, complete with playlists. The program is published by AvanQuest (www.gocyberlink.com).

Go directly to disk

For US$250 we tried skipping the computer and went directly to making photo CDs with a PrimeFoto box from Pacific Image.

Slots in the front of the box accept several kinds of photo memory cards. Insert a blank CD into the tray on the left of the box and you have two options: You can now burn the contents of the digital photo card to a CD, or you can connect the box to your TV to view and select which pictures you want to burn to the disk. While viewing on the TV, you can add titles, music and rotate any picture so you don’t end up with people twisting their necks trying to view the ones that are sideways.

The user manual claimed the finished CD can be viewed and heard using any of the popular DVD players used for watching movies on TV. This turned out to be true only if you used CD-R/RW blanks for recording; CD-R only disks did not work.

This is about as simple as it gets, but it’s not fast. When we used the computer’s own Windows on-board CD-burning program, it took about 25 seconds to make a photo CD. When we used the PrimeFoto box, it took several minutes. The disk ejected automatically when done. So the main point of PrimeFoto is being able to make a photo disk without having to use a computer.

We think the device is a little expensive, but it doesn’t need a computer, and it’s simple to use. The box itself is about the size and weight of a thick book. It comes with a good tutorial on CD. More info at www.primefoto.com.

The numbers report

According to the market research firm IDC (www.idc.com), about 30 per cent to 40 per cent of all Internet use at work has nothing to do with the business. Previous studies we’ve seen have found that the percentage of non work-related browsing is even higher among government workers.

Phishing season

We keep receiving e-mails asking us to verify the personal information contained in our Citibank account, and we don’t even have a Citibank account. Do not answer any e-mail request to verify your banking information.

Books

“Internet Annoyances” by Preston Gralla; from O’Reilly (www.oreilly.com). How to stop pop-ups, limit spam, create Web sites and blogs, etc. We even learned how to reach an actual person at AOL (see page 131).

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