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Windows, Mac, and Linux Digests

New Windows and Mac products, and an Office alternative for Linux. Windows digest hed: Toss your cookies dek: other new Windows products minimize freeze-ups. Mac: hed: A step up for MP3ers dek: online answering machine among new Mac products Linux digest hed: An Office alternative dek: OpenOffice brings Windows functionality to Linux.

Kookaburra Software’s Cookie Pal automatically accepts or rejects Internet cookies. Users don’t need to click on the Web browser’s Cookie Alert Message. Instead, cookies are routinely denied or accepted from all types of Web sites. Also, Cookie Pal can delete existing cookies from the system, and the product is capable of monitoring 40 modules at once. Windows95/98/Me is required for Cookie Pal, which can be downloaded from Kookaburra Software for $15.

Computer freezes can be minimized with the newest version of Download Accelerator 5 from Speedbit download.cnet.com/downloads. You don’t have to be victimized by a slow modem that frequently freezes. This product can accelerate downloading times by 300 percent. Also, Download Accelerator helps the computer recover from lost connections and shutdowns. Another feature is its ability to search for mirror sites that provide the best download performance. The new version includes a browser-integrated toolbar, different saving folders for each file extension, import and export downloads lists, online-file review services, download link highlighter, password management, and operation trigger sounds. Download Accelerator is available in eight languages and works on all Windows operating systems.

You can create colorful drum and audio loops with the FruityLoops Pro 3.11 software synthesizer www.fruityloops.com. This sound-creation device allows for creating WAV, MP3, and MIDI loops on the Internet. The music is produced in a variety of ways, but the built-in sampler generator is used most frequently. It lets musicians load, play, and edit most types of WAV files. Features include 16-bit, 44KHz stereo, floating-point internal mixing, 4-65 notes per pattern, and digital effects. FruityLoops Pro works on Windows 95/98/NT/2000.

Transform desktops into personalized environments with Stardock System Inc.’s new product, Desktop X v0.90. It gives users the ability to design customized desktops with themes, as well as allowing users to choose a Windows interface for specific needs. With DesktopX, users can be creative while mixing and matching DesktopX’s objects with other types of desktop icons or creating specific themes. Companies can use it to create standardized desktops for their users, while parents can produce childproof desktops. -Christine Hunter

Mac digest

The new MP3Pro was developed with the quality of standard MP3 players but with a twist of innovation. Developed by Coding Technologies, the MP3Pro is compatible with MP3, but it creates files half the size of the original MP3 files. The MP3Pro produces a higher quality of recording since the encoder is split into two parts. The first part contains standard MP3 information and the other part contains high audio frequencies. The product is available for both Macintosh and PC users.

Eliminate the archaic sound of a busy telephone signal with the Internet Answering Machine by Callwave. Instead of buying a second phone line for the computer, the Internet Answering Machine allows users to save money by using only one phone line. If you’re online all day and don’t want to worry about missing calls, Internet Answering Machine lets callers leave a message that you will receive instantly while online.

Offices can suddenly become amateur music and movie studios thanks to Roxio’s new product, Toast 5. The embodiment of convergence, it lets you burn CDs while working on the computer, convert iMovies into Video CDs, and turn MP3 files into audio CDs. Toast 5 also declicks old recordings and flushes out unwanted noises, and it provides storage space for digital photos and multimedia files on CDs. Toast 5 works on Mac OS 8.6 or later.

Personal Web sites can now boast the presence of professionalism thanks to Macromedia’s Dreamweaver 4. It allows you to code like a webmaster with live syntax coloring, tag balancing, and auto-indenting. Also, layouts can be created easily by drawing directly on the page, dragging cells, or grouping cells to create nested tables. This product can be purchased for $299, or $399 for the Dreamweaver 4 with Fireworks 4. The two products complement each other: While Dreamweaver 4 creates the layout, Fireworks 4 enhances the layout with its graphics. Fireworks 4 works directly with Dreamweaver 4 to produce desired graphics and then automatically places them into the Web page. Fireworks 4 contains 26 styles or users can easily create their own palettes. Fireworks 4 strengthens the visual appeal of Web sites with pop-up menus. Also, HTML and JavaScript can be updated and edited while the tables of the Dreamweaver 4 are maintained. Both the Dreamweaver 4 and Fireworks 4 work on Mac or Windows systems. -Christine Hunter

Linux digest

The recent and continued releases of OpenOffice, a freeware office suite for Windows, Linux and other operating systems, offer a viable alternative for Microsoft’s Office suite.

This is quite important if Linux is to become a valid player on the desktop. Especially starting with build 627 of the OpenOffice.org suite, I finally found an office suite I’m happy with. To start with, the latest versions of the suite no longer start in a huge desktop mode. Previous versions wanted to take over your entire desktop, and even included a Start menu. This led to a clunky interface especially for the vast majority of people who need to do more than just run an office suite. The latest versions start with just a word processor window. From there, you can launch other windows, including those for spreadsheet, presentation, and drawing applications.

The word processor can save to the Rich Text Format, MS Word 95, 97/2000, and HTML, as well as to various text formats for Windows, Linux/UNIX, and MacOS. The spreadsheet can save to MS Excel 5.0, 95, 97/2000, SLYK, DIF, dBase, and a number of other formats. The presentation module can save to MS PowerPoint 97/2000. All of this gives an ever-improving degree of interoperability with the dominant office formats from Microsoft.

The OpenOffice.org suite runs on Linux, Solaris, and Windows. Since the source code is available, you can build it on more platforms, and work is underway on a port to MacOS X.

A prebuilt binary version of the suite is available online www.openoffice.org. The installation instructions at the end of this page are extremely brief. For Linux, you get a compressed tar archive, which you can extract with the following commands:

gunzip install627_linux_intel.tar.gz

tar xvof install627_linux_intel.tar

Once you have done this, run install/setup and away you go. Just a word of warning, though–you should install the suite as a normal user, not root. In general, install when logged in to your normal Linux account. The command to run the suite is soffice, short for StarOffice, Sun’s productized version of the OpenOffice.org suite. Right now, I prefer the OpenOffice.org version, since it is updated far more often than StarOffice, even though StarOffice www.sun.com/staroffice/starofficenow offers more components, including a database.

The main documentation page www.openoffice.org/documentation.html links to the available documents. This is quite a large application.

The OpenOffice.org suite isn’t perfect, but since it runs on Windows and Linux as well as supports many Microsoft formats, it is certainly a step in the right direction. –Eric Foster-Johnson

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