Trace! is a free program that checks documents and e-mails for possibly sensitive items. These could be Social Security numbers, profanity, racial comments and items that may violate privacy laws.
It’s from Workshare (www.workshare.com), a British company. Trace! generates a report about possibly
dangerous comments; a second program, called Protect, stops questionable documents from going out.
You can click on a whole folder, such as My Documents, a folder usually found on the Windows desktop, and Trace! will go through all its files. It can even see if something was blacked out – censored or changed. One of the characteristics of any document created with Microsoft Office – including spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations – is that the changes are hidden, but the original is still preserved. The changes are even preserved with the time, date and source.
How long does all this take? We took a 135k folder with three Microsoft Word documents; Trace! went through them and generated a report in 15 seconds. It found no security problems. We then created a document with Social Security numbers and profanity (of course, we had to use a dictionary to find those words) and Trace! flagged them immediately.
Trace! can be activated just for particular documents or left in an “”always on”” state. Protect strips out sensitive material before it can be sent. This is tricky, of course, because sometimes you want a colleague or client to see information that might be deemed sensitive. So it goes back to that old World War II slogan that “”Loose Lips Sink Ships””: Think about what you’re saying. You could violate some laws.
This is the best movie- and slideshow-making program we’ve ever come across, and the reason is it’s simple.
Muvee autoProducer is what you would call a no-brainer. It does not have all the features of most of the movie editing programs on the market. But the trouble with those programs is it takes weeks of learning to use those features; Muvee takes less than a minute.
Open the program and click on the slide and video files you want to make into a movie. Click to add some music. Click to add a “”style.”” You’re done.
There are dozens of “”style”” setups to choose from, and these are the key to making a quick and easy movie. “”Birthday Party,”” for example, adds frames of balloons and party hats. “”Velvet”” creates a smooth, slow-paced movie. “”Music Video”” creates an up-tempo style with fast cuts timed to the music’s beat. A child’s template called “”Comic Book”” outlines people and objects in black and adds animated borders.
Muvee from Muvee Technologies (www.muvee.com). A free version on the Web site lets you create brief movies and save them as e-mail. When you launch it, it automatically scans you computer for video, music and pictures, and creates a Muvee; it then asks you if you want to change anything. This is a fun thing to try.
At www.sudokufun.com there is lots of puzzles from the new craze for Japanese number games. “”Sudoku”” is Japanese for “”single number.”” The puzzles here change every few minutes.
Those who enjoy the works of Vincent Van Gogh will want to check out www.vggallery.com. There are 2,194 works by the Dutch artist. (And to think he sold only two.) The site is endorsed by the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam.
“”Talk Is Cheap”” by James Gaskin from www.oreilly.com.
Making calls through the Internet is very cheap indeed, and makes one wonder what kind of future traditional phone companies have. The author goes through many telephone alternatives, and most interesting of all, goes through his own phone bill. He points out that much of a normal telephone bill is taxes, which you don’t get with Internet phoning. In his case, half the bill was taxes and fees.
There were a dozen lines of add-ons, including long-distance service, never used. (Phone companies might charge you for long distance even if you don’t make any long-distance calls.)
It’s all kind of fascinating, and perhaps most interesting of all is you can read a lot of it without buying the book: O’Reilly Press makes sample chapters of all its books available on its Web site.