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It seems that balmy Steve Ballmer has gotten a bit balmier: according to Slashdot, "Microsoft's Steve Ballmer has vented his frustration at the success of the iPad and said developing a Windows alternative is 'job one urgency. Apple has done an interesting job of putting together a synthesis and putting a product out, and in which they've... they sold certainly more than I'd like them to sell, let me just be clear about that,' Ballmer told analysts. The Microsoft boss said the company plans to deliver a range of tablet formats in the next year, some based on Intel's next-gen Oak Trail processor. 'It is job one urgency around here. Nobody is sleeping at the switch. And so we are working with those partners, not just to deliver something, but to deliver products that people really want to go buy.' In Microsoft's vision, slates will run a derivative of Windows 7."

Recently I heard that Apple's market capitalization has now surpassed that of Microsoft. If I were Ballmer, I'd be feeling balmier too: in just a couple months Google will bring its low-priced "netbook-plus" (upsized netbook) computers to market, running Google's new Chrome OS. This new operating system is Web-centric - all the programs will run in the Chrome browser, which is just an extension of the OS... or is it the other way around: the OS is an extension of the browser? What we are witnessing with the iPhone, the various Android smartphones, the iPad and soon the Google OS netbooks is that the world of personal and business computing is moving to "the Cloud." So Ballmer is pushing the people at Microsoft to play catch-up: Google introduced Google Apps a few years ago, so just a few months ago Microsoft came up with something similar. Now Apple that introduced the iPad, Microsoft is scrambling to come up with a better slate computer.

Hang in there! Remember: the mighty oak tree was once a little nut that held its ground.

The problem with copying is that you're always behind the innovators. For years - actually, for decades - Microsoft has watched for developing trends in the computer marketplace, then used its enormous pile of cash to buy out the innovators and incorporate their ideas into Microsoft products. But now with Apple and Google being the innovators, they're too big for even Microsoft to swallow up. Microsoft's image seems tied to the desktop: word processing, spreadsheets, databases, presentations. Microsoft Office has been their "cash cow" for a couple decades now. But the world is moving to web-based applications and even web-based operating systems. Will Microsoft succeed in catching up, or will it be left in the dust?

One example of Microsoft buying out the innovators is Process Explorer, a utility program that works like Windows Task Manager but offers much more. Mark Russinovich, who developed it and a whole slew of other handy, free utilities, is now a Microsoft employee. Click on the Process Explorer link above, and you'll see all those utilities: you can download them individually or all together in a 11MB package, or you can even run them online. BTW, another nifty set of free utilities is from Nirsoft.

Click on Online PC Support for our worldwide help   &   Offsite Backup Services for securing your files!

Remember what I wrote in my last issue? - "An offsite backup service is like insurance - you need to get it before you need it, because when you need it it's too late to get it." In the past few weeks, three of my contacts have experienced computer wipe-outs: 1) a cup of water spilled on the keyboard; 2) the motherboard burned out; and 3) the computer was dropped.

For the first man, the computer was ruined, but I was able to help recover data from the hard drive: put it in an external case, plug it into the USB port of another computer, copy the files and use a special utility from Nirsoft to recover the registration key for Microsoft Office on his replacement PC: he's adding a backup system now. The second person did the same: put his old hard drive in an external case, plugged it into the USB port of his new computer and copied his files over. The third man lost all of his files - the hard drive was damaged irrecoverably, so we had to start from scratch reinstalling his programs on a new PC... with a backup system this time!

The moral of the story: backkup your files. My wife and I are using Mozy - it's highly-rated: you just set it up once, and it runs invisibly the background. Your irreplaceable information can always be restored, even in the event of theft, fire, flood, tornado or a dropped computer. Gotta get it before you need it!

Another nice freebie: to protect your business or private files from prying eyes in case your computer is stolen or forgotten somewhere, get the highly-rated, free AxCrypt program: just right-click on a file and enter a password to encrypt it replacing the original, or to decrypt it. If you double-click on the file and enter the password to open the file and work with your info - when you close the file, it's automatically encrypted again. Caution: be sure to use a program like CCleaner often to completely delete all traces of "ghost" images of temporary files that MS Word and other programs save to hard disk while you are using those programs.

See How Cyber Spies Infiltrate Business Systems (they do it gradually); and how the Google-China Attack is Part of a Broad Spying Effort - again, slowly and carefully, one small step at a time.

The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. Thanks for your time!

Yours truly,

"Dr. Bob the CompuNerd"

RobertD HoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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