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Going With the Other Leading Brand

Why Copernic Agent is better than Google, and other surprises.

If there’s one thing that annoys lawyers and writers and editors alike, it’s the custom of using product trademarks as generic words. It happens when one product looms large in a market, people just use the trademark to describe the task it performs. Hence, we xerox documents with a lowercase x, and hoover carpets with a lowercase h. And we never ricoh or lanier a document, even if our photocopiers are not Xerox branded. Writers’ trade journals are rife with lawyer-driven ads to protect trademarks. These ads are comically legalese, insisting that if a character wipes his nose, it be with a Kleenex(r) brand facial tissue instead of a plain kleenex. (Doesn’t anyone scott their nose anymore?)

The verbing of trademarks has dominated two areas of computing too, though nobody seems to fuss about it. People joyfully photoshop their digital pictures and google whatever strikes their fancy without fear of a lawyer’s nastygram.

Well, I’d like to call a halt to the practice, not it’s because I believe it’s damaging the language or Adobe’s and Google’s brands. It’s because I don’t believe that these brand leaders are always the best way to go. I Paint Shop my pictures and Copernic my research instead. Let me tell you why.

Corel Paint Shop Pro X

Paint Shop Pro has been kicking around for more than a dozen years, quietly and efficiently keeping pace with Photoshop at a fraction of its cost. Earlier this year, the program was bought up by Corel and it has recently undergone its tenth revision. It’s still a kicking program, costs $129 or $59 for an upgrade, and if anything, it’s become easier to use. I certainly find it easier than Photoshop and even Adobe’s pared-down consumer product Elements. And like the Adobe products, Paint Shop Pro X is a multi-layered plug-in-compatible digital darkroom capable of handling all kinds of graphic formats, including JPEG, RAW, and Photoshop’s proprietary format.

The basic upgrades include a tutorial bar that steps you through the typical photo-editing processes. Removing red-eye is a one-step process. The automatic photo fix button generally does a good job of taking underexposed pictures taken on overcast days and making the results a little sunnier. If not, you have fuller control over various elements such as brightness, color cast, and contrast.

This much is standard fare for photo editing software, but there are some more special features here. A couple of clicks into the program, you can remove blemishes from teenage prom pictures, whiten the teeth of coffee drinkers, and add a tan to the pale. You can also organize your pictures with a basic photo album program.

Copernic Agent Professional

Google is taking over the world, this much is true. You can get any kind of Web content from it, along with images, news, addresses, driving directions, satellite photography, phone numbers … pretty much anything except for downloadable pizza. Google Desktop can even fish out the e-mail or document you wrote two years ago. But it’s not the be-all and end-all of Web and desktop search. I’m not sure that Copernic Agent is either, but for serious research, it’s pretty darn close.

You have to pay for Copernic Agent, which is a downside, but it provides some research essentials that make up for the cost. For one thing, it can check all your search results and remove those that are no longer valid. No more dead links–that’s worth $30 for the basic version and $80 for the pro version. It also saves your search results in a list, which means that you can keep track of your research from week to week. An audit trail of your research: There’s another big plus. The professional version of Copernic Agent also keeps track of changes made to the pages in your search results. Information updates on your results: That’s the biggest plus of all, and worth the 50 bucks difference between the prices of the basic and pro versions.

Oh, Copernic also provides a free desktop search program to compete with Google Desktop. It doesn’t search the Web, but it’s very fast at scouring your hard drive for key words, contacts, and anything else that interests you. It previews files in many formats without requiring you to open the application. It sometimes strips out graphics in the preview (PowerPoint is an obvious example of such a format), but that just makes the preview faster, so it’s hardly a criticism.

No more verbing?

I’d love to go back to my roots as a linguist and say that I’ll not be verbing any more trademarks soon, but even with the Paint Shop Pro and Copernic in my life, I’d be lying. I’ll still Spybot any pop-ups that infest my PCs. I’ll continue to eBay with the best of them. In a pinch, I’ll probably even Outlook my appointments. And with any luck, I’ll continue to excel.

Contributing Editor Matt Lake writes SOHO Advisor monthly for ComputerUser.

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