Skype has a hard-earned reputation for handling Internet telephone calls with style – simple interface, great voice quality. Installing the software is a snap. Calling another Skype user anywhere in the world is free; it’s relatively cheap to add the ability to call conventional phones and mobile phones and to receive calls at a real phone number that connects to your Skype software, but it also adds a bit of complexity to the setup. […] continued

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Wikipedia occasionally gets in the news when one of its entries is hijacked by pranksters or political operatives. As a result, there have been endless discussions in the media about its trustworthiness.

Don’t let that distract you. Wikipedia has become a staggeringly useful source of information. I’m starting to look at it first for reference questions – it’s frequently easier than a Google search to narrow in on a surprising range of information. […] continued

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Later this year, Microsoft will roll out Windows Vista, the successor to Windows XP, as well as Office 2007, a dizzying array of familiar and unfamiliar business applications.

The busiest division at Microsoft, though, is producing online services under the umbrella name of “Windows Live.” The executives claim there’s a unified vision behind the flood of Windows Live products – but take a look at this chart of Windows Live services and see what you think. […] continued

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America Online appears to be offering a useful service – words I have not spoken often in the last ten or fifteen years. For $6.95 per month, AOL’s new service Link2PC allows remote access to one or two computers from any location. Here’s an article about the new service.

This is not a new idea – here’s my comments from last year about stalwart GoToMyPC and newer competitors MyWebExPC and LogMeIn. […] continued

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Microsoft unveiled its latest Internet search page, yet another attempt to unseat Google. The “Windows Live” name is being attached to many web-based Microsoft projects right now, so the new name is Windows Live Search. Currently the results are driven by the same engine behind MSN Search, but Microsoft promises that it will be enhanced soon to produce results that are neato keen compared to Google’s search results. […] continued

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REAL ESTATE FOR VOYEURS launched its beta web site a few days ago, offering free access to real estate information that has been hard to come by until now. (It’s been added to the bruceb favorites page under Home-Family / Realty).

Zillow displays estimates of the market value of homes all over the country, based on data such as tax records, sales history, and comparables. […] continued

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Here’s a web site that may come in handy: Microsoft’s new Safety Center lets you run free scans for viruses and other malicious software. It also includes maintenance tools for defragging and cleaning up your disk.

If a virus gets onto your system somehow – you let your subscription lapse, or your virus definitions were out of date, for example – you may find that the virus prevents you from using whatever antivirus software was installed. […] continued

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E-mail was not designed to exchange large files. Many people attempt to send big files by e-mail – 10 or 20 or 30Mb of photos or PDFs or the like – and feel disappointed when the recipient never gets the message. Or perhaps you’ve been on the receiving end and had your mail delivery disrupted by a large attachment that pushes you over your storage limits or causes your mail program to time out. […] continued

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Google has unveiled Google Talk, its own instant messenger program. There’s no surprises in it. Here’s an article summarizing the new service.

If you have a microphone on your computer, you can talk to the person on the other end, but there’s no other telephony or VOIP built into Google Talk. […] continued

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More and more people are looking for remote access to their office computers to run programs or work on files from outside the office.

Microsoft Small Business Server users have it best. The remote access offered by SBS works like a dream.

If you’re an individual or working in a small office that hasn’t graduated to a server yet, you have some tempting options. […] continued

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Microsoft opened MSN Virtual Earth today in response to Google Maps, Google Earth, and Google Local. Here’s an article about the new service. On first glance it doesn’t come close to the elegance of the Google services, but it’s nice to have competition – for any given location, either might have better closeup pictures or local information or the like. […] continued

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Google Maps has added a hybrid view today that combines their satellite and map views, so you can see both at the same time.

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Music downloaders alert: for the moment, EasyTree has returned at a new web address, after being shut down by legal threats last week.

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Google Maps has quietly been updated to include satellite images. It’s pretty extraordinary – click on the word “satellite” to switch from traditional maps to satellite photos for a particular place or for a display from one location to another. Here’s an article about the new feature.

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Microsoft has finished its work on MSN Search and will now begin a blitz of marketing in an attempt to dent Google’s brand identification. To enhance search results, Microsoft has added full access to the contents of Encarta, which is a reasonably nice thing to do. Search results look good but personally I still prefer Google’s page layouts. […] continued

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