July 15, 2008

Cellular Modems Plenty Fast

By James Derk Scripps Howard News Service

Mail is clogging the box after a few weeks of product reviews. Let's get to it.

Q. I am thinking about getting a cellular modem for my laptop. Have you reviewed any, and can you tell me how fast they are? I don't want to spend a lot of money and get dial-up speed.

A. I have used a couple of cellular cards. One is a true card that slides into my laptop's PC card slot. The other uses a cable that connects to my laptop and then my cell phone. I have had better luck and speed with the actual card, but both worked. As for the speed, I have found them to be adequately fast for most business tasks. I have not used one for downloading a movie or a bunch of songs, but I have found the connection and download speed plenty fast for my needs. As for price, they are about $60 for my plan for unlimited use (keep in mind most providers don't mean "unlimited" when they say unlimited, but rather they mean unlimited until you use too much bandwidth.

Some laptops also offer an internal card that you can insert (or have a tech insert) so you can avoid the external card and antenna. Those are available on the secondary market for less than $40 and are simple to install.

Q. Is there an easy way to transfer my Internet Explorer bookmarks from one computer to another computer?

A. Sure. Copy and paste the folder named "Favorites" under Documents and Settings from your profile on the first computer to the same folder on the new computer. A USB flash drive will make quick work of this, unless you have a gazillion of them.

Q. You do realize that you mixed up the name of Time Capsule, the hardware, and Time Machine, the software, in some parts of your review, right?

A. Yes. I confess my frustration at the inability of getting the thing to work rattled my brain. My apologies.

Q. I would like to install Linux on an old desktop PC and use it as a print server and a file server. Is there one version you prefer over the others?

A. I like the Ubuntu distribution. You can download it for free at www.ubuntu.com, or they will even mail you a disk for free. In my experience, it installs easily and runs like a champ on older hardware. Most users find it meets their needs for basic computing tasks like e-mail and Web browsing. I am pretty surprised that more older PCs are not running Linux and remaining in service for that purpose in libraries and schools.

Q. Is there a way to quickly resize JPG photos? I want to resize some to 640 by 480.

A. Yes. I would download and use IRFANVIEW. You can get it at www.irfanview .com. It has a resize option that has that size as one of the default radio buttons. Just select that radio button and hit apply, and the photo will be resized to that size. It is a good Windows product.

James Derk is owner of CyberDads, a computer repair firm, and tech columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. His e-mail address is jim@cyberdads .com.

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