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July 5, 2003
[ News: mobile phones and the decline of society ]

Mobile phones make you rude
 
 
 From the excellent Techdirt website, a collection of stories about how rude we are getting with our mobile phones: "Yet another study about mobile phone rudeness (going along with the one we posted earlier this week has determined that a stunning 71% of people are now consistently late for social events because they can reschedule at the last minute with their mobile phones. 70% say they've completely canceled meetings at the very last minute using their mobile phone, and 78% say they've gotten out of "awkward situations" by sending a text message rather than calling. From the sound of this, it appears to be focused on the UK, where text messaging is a lot more popular than the US. Also, the study found that 89% of people think others need to have better etiquette when using a mobile phone. Yet another example of the way mobile phones are changing the way people go about their day (not always for the better)."
 
Couldn't agree more.

[ Note: ToolButton responds on privacy ]

 
 Further to my note on the interesting news toolbar ToolButton.  I've heard back from ToolButton Inc's Deb Alloway on the issue of privacy, and here's her answer:
 
"While a user has the ToolButton toolbar installed we collect stats on the activity of their ToolButton toolbar.  For example, we will know which buttons they have installed, the menu items they use, the number of times they do a search, etc. We do not track any activity done outside of the functions of the ToolButton toolbar. Another example would be if you did a search for "cats".  We would know you searched for "cats" but that is all.  We can't tell which web site you visited from there or any other activity."
 
The only problem I can see with this is that over time, that information would reveal quite a lot about the individual user. Say you'd searched for medical terms, or cars, or brands of diapers, quite a thorough picture of your family would be available to ToolButton for marketing purposes. Given that each ToolButton would have to have a unique user ID that information would end up being quite specific.
 
Lastly, a general thought: it's quite sad that most folk nowadays, burned by spam and other sleazy marketing devices, don't trust products like this anymore. I suppose in some ways the companies concerned have only themselves to blame, but abusing Internet users' trust in the heady early days. My survey of about 100 friends and contacts for Plaxo revealed that nearly all of them considered it a marketing scam. Thoughts, anyone?

July 4, 2003
[ News: Another way to get your fix ]

Another way of getting news
 
 
 I've talked ad nauseam about RSS feeds -- a method of getting you snippets of news and whatnot but not clogging your inbox, or exposing you to more spam -- but if you find it all a bit fiddly, you might want to try this option. ToolButton Inc. this week released version 1.2 of ToolButton, an Internet Explorer browser enhancement "that provides users with a delivery channel to obtain content from their favorite websites without the worry and bother of spam."
 
Basically, the ToolButton is a toolbar that appears in your browser, offering buttons to dynamic -- i.e. it changes when new news comes in -- and static content -- it doesn't (change, that is) from websites you choose. A website?s ToolButton can include news content, dynamic feeds, blogs, RSS content and menus of important URLs.
 
I've installed it and like it. What I haven't checked out is whether it's monitoring your browsing activities. More on that once I find out, and hear back from the ToolButton folk.

[ News: "Champagne or ink, sir?" ]

The chips are down
 
  Unsurprisingly, computer printer cartridges are more expensive than vintage champagne. An investigation by British consumer group Which? published yesterday found that "Epson inkjet cartridges stopped printing even though in some cases there was enough ink to print over a third more pages".
 
 
Here's the full press release:
 
"Many of the printers tested gave premature warnings to change ink and toner cartridges, but most gave users the option of continuing printing. However, embedded into Epson's ink cartridges are chips that stop the cartridge working before the ink runs out. A Which? researcher managed to override this system and print up to 38 per cent more good quality pages, even though the chips stated that the cartridge was empty.
 
"Epson cartridges are pricey - a T026201 cartridge costs about £21 and holds approximately 12ml of ink. This works out at around £1.75 per millilitre for ink, which makes it over seven times more expensive than vintage champagne (a bottle of 1985 Dom Perignon works out at about 23p per millilitre).
 
"Epson said that customers are free to reset these chips to get more ink out, but it will continue to use them 'to protect the customer from accidentally damaging their printer or producing sub-standard print quality, by unknowingly draining the ink cartridge and damaging the print head.'
 
"Which? experts think that damaging the print head is unlikely if consumers stop printing as soon as they see a drop in quality."
 
I've harped on before about the sleazy price of cartridges. I hadn't thought of comparing it to bubbly, though. Good one.

[ Link: Amazonian feeding frenzy ]

  Amazon RSS Feeds
 
 
If you want to stay on top of what's available from Amazon here's a great way to do it, courtesy of one of the best technology 'news you can use' sources out there: Lockergnome. Chris Pirillo, who runs Lockergnome, has set up Rich Site Summary (RSS) feeds  -- if you're not sure what those are, check out my recent column on the topic -- of new products on Amazon.com, from baby gear to videogames, all organized into topics.
 

July 3, 2003
[ Update: Sims Online gets serious ]

The Sims Online takes an unexpected turn
 
 
  Interesting article from Wired about The Sims Online, reviewed by Loose Wire a few months back. The Sims Online takes Will Wright's vision of artificial folk being guided by their creators to the Internet world, in what was supposed to be a huge money-making operation for owners EA Inc. So far, it's been a disappointing ride: six months after launch, EA is nowhere close to its target of 1 million active monthly subscribers. The Sims Online had, according to a May article in Wired, sold 125,000 copies retail, has been discounted from $50 to as low as $20 on Amazon and has 97,000 active subscribers.
 
What is more interesting, perhaps is the direction it's taken. In an article published today, Wired reports that for some The Sims Online has become "a tool for serious social and personal expression. Who would have thought, for example, that abuse victims might turn to The Sims to unburden themselves of past torments?" Sims, it transpires, are using a feature called family album to "create dozens of staged snapshots, crafting what can be complex, scripted, multi-episode social commentaries, graphic novels or even movies, as it were, with the Sims starring in the lead roles."
 

[ Box: Plaxo answers privacy questions ]

Plaxo respond to privacy and other issues
 
  Further to my column in this week's FEER and WSJ editions about the contact updater Plaxo, here's the company's full responses to my questions about the product.
 
 
1. How exactly does Plaxo hope to make money from the venture? If this information is still private (as I've seen in other articles), why? And how do you convince members of the public to entrust their private information with you if it's not clear how you make money from it? I saw reference to a corporate edition as the product that will be charged for. Is that to be the only source of revenue?
 
Plaxo has a very simple, straightforward way for making money. In the future, we plan to release a premium version of the product that includes new business-oriented features that will include a license fee. We will continue to remain focused on making the free personal use version of Plaxo as good as we can make it: listening to feedback, improving the product and adding new features.
 
2. And what exactly happens to my information if I don't subscribe, or to update my information, but if it's been entered by someone else? Is that information, and the individual concerned, covered by your privacy statement?
Based on your privacy statement -- (from http://www.plaxo.com/support/privacy)
 
The information in a Plaxo member?s address book ("Your Contact List") is considered to be owned by them. Plaxo does not make this information public or provide any mechanism for anyone else to access this information. From the Privacy Policy:
 
"Your Contact List will not be shared with anyone and will only be used to provide you with secure, web-based access to its data and to run the Plaxo Contact Networks? (e.g., send update messages) at your request."
 
Furthermore, Plaxo offers the option to remove this information from the servers when it is no longer needed (e.g. to send an update request):
 
"Your Contact List: you can elect not to store your entire contact list on Plaxo's servers, except to the extent needed to run the Services you choose to use (names and email addresses)."
 
Plaxo does not provide any way to share one?s account information and contact list with others. Except, of course, your email address is shared with those people that you send update request emails to. Plaxo offers an Autoreply account on the web for those users that cannot or do not wish to download the Plaxo software, but still want to automatically respond to update request emails coming from Plaxo members. When you create this account you enter the information that you want Plaxo to automatically reply with. By creating this account, you are automatically granting permission to share the information to anyone who sends you a Plaxo update request email.
 
Plaxo?s privacy policy covers all the contents of a user?s contact list. We understand that that this list may include contact information for people that might not have subscribed to Plaxo, Inc and might not ever try to update this information. As part of an account-holder?s contact list, this contact information is protected under Plaxo?s privacy statement.
 
3. "We use Your Information:
To enable you to use the Plaxo Contact Networks?;
For license reporting and assessment of service levels; and/or to better understand on an aggregated basis how our products are used, gauge traffic patterns and determine what types of content and services are most popular with users of our products and services. "
 
Could you please explain exactly what "and determine what types of content and services are most popular with users of our products and services" means and how it works in practice. Does this mean that information about browsing and other computer/Internet activities on a Plaxo-installed computer is being monitored and sent to a Plaxo or Plaxo-related computer? If so, what kind of information, exactly?
 
We log Plaxo feature activities to determine which features are being used and how often they are being used. For example, we track how many users use the Plaxo Reminders feature to determine if the feature is being used and if we need to improve it. This information is used in aggregate (e.g. 23% of the users have accessed a feature) or possibly to contact specific users directly for feedback about the product.
 
Plaxo does not monitor browsing or other user activities on a Plaxo-installed computer nor does it install any snooping software on a user machine. Plaxo monitors user requests targeted at the Plaxo server in order to track the efficacy of Plaxo-provided products and services. For example, update requests sent out by Plaxo users use one of several available email templates. We track response rates by email template so as to determine which email templates are most user-friendly.
 
4. "Additionally, we use Your Account Information:
To verify access rights to content, services or software;
To provide you with information about Plaxo products, services, news and events through the Software, the Site or email;
To allow you to purchase and download Plaxo products and services; and/or
To provide you with personalized content programming, instructions and services."
 
What, exactly, is personalized content programming, instructions and services and how does it work? Does this mean delivery of information further to that directly related to the contact information requested by the user?
 
For example, we enter "Hello Rikk Carey" to your web page sign in. Or we may use your name when communicating Plaxo messages, e.g. "Rikk Carey has sent you a card."
 
Some examples of personalized instructions and services:
· Weekly reminders to send out update requests for those who have yet to respond to your first update request.
· Branding: Allowing users to replace the Plaxo-standard email signature with a personalized or company-specific one.
· Tracking which ?member groups? a Plaxo user is member of and allowing member groups to link address books.
 
5. In this paragraph -- While Plaxo uses cookies to enable you to use the Services and the Site, and our Web servers automatically log the Internet Protocol ("IP") address of your computer, Plaxo does not use this information to identify you personally except to provide you with the features of the Services -- Could you explain exactly what personally identifiable data you're handling, and what exactly does 'Services' mean in this and other references? I am not clear whether Services means the specific contact-updating package, or some future additional service that Plaxo may offer.
 
Today, we store your email address and a Plaxo session id in the cookie for security purposes. The session id (a standard Internet security technique) is used to time-out your web session. The email address is the key that we use to match you with your Plaxo account. If these don?t match, no access. If the session id is old, no access.
 
6. In relation to this last point, could you explain further what those Services might involve? And how will they be tied to the Plaxo product? Will users be required to subscribe to those services to maintain a free product?
 
See above answer. The Services in the case of the using cookies is simply providing web access to your address book.
 
We will continue to update the base version of the product and make it available to users at no charge. Concurrently, we will also make available one or more ?premier? versions of the product that will require a software license fee. Users can remain indefinitely on the free version of the software. Alternatively, they many choose to purchase the paid version if they find the added features attractive.
 
7. In this sentence: "Members may occasionally receive information on Plaxo products, services, news and events. Out of respect for your privacy, we present you with the option to not receive these communications (link to your account Preferences on the web site). "
 
I could find not preferences area on the website, only in the software, and none offered an option not to receive such communications. Could you explain, and also clarify whether the option is already checked in (i.e. opt-in) or opt out?
 
Plaxo Preferences are on both the web site and the software client, as well a link on the message itself (that launches the Preferences).
 
8. Users are likely to be discouraged, or even alarmed by this sentence:
In the event Plaxo goes through a business transition, such as a merger, acquisition or the sale of a portion of its assets, Your Information and your membership in the Plaxo Contact Networks? will, in most instances, be part of the assets transferred. You will be notified of an ownership change pursuant to Notification of Changes section of the privacy statement.
Could you explain why this might happen, and confirm whether any new owner will not be bound by any of the privacy assurances previously given by Plaxo?
 
This is normal legal business practice in the USA that applies to all the services that you are familiar with (e.g. Yahoo!, AOL, MSN, etc.).
 
9. Could you confirm whether 'notify' means by email or on the website?
If, however, we plan to use Your Information in a manner different from that stated at the time of collection we will notify you. You will have a choice as to whether or not we use Your Information in this different manner. However, if you have declined member communications, deleted or deactivated your account with the Services, then you will not be contacted, nor will Your Information be used in this new manner.
 
Plaxo currently has no plans to go through a business transition. However, if such a transition should occur, we will notify users via the website and email if you have opted to receive member communications from us.
 
10. Does the paragraph below indicate that anyone who has elected not to receive member communications will still have their data stored on Plaxo's servers?
In addition, if we make any material changes to our privacy practices that do not affect Your Information already stored on Plaxo's servers, we will post a prominent notice on the Site notifying you of the change. In some cases where we post such a notice we will also contact you, if you have opted to receive member communications from us, notifying you of the changes to our privacy practices.
 
The two issues are orthogonal. This clause is simply saying that if we make small changes to the Privacy Policy that do not impact Your Information that we will definitely post these on the web site and possibly, depending on the extend of the change, send them via email to those users who have not opted out.
 
11. I've received several emails from unconnected people looking for me to update my contacts. Will all those different versions of my personal data be merged into one? How will that happen exactly? And, in terms of privacy, how will that data be covered?
 
If you are not a Plaxo member, we do not merge this data. We treat each occurrence as if it was independent of the other. This data is the owned by the person who created the address book and will be treated as Your Contact List.
 
If you are a Plaxo member, you control Your Plaxo Cards, and these cards define the contact info that you will share with others.
 
For Plaxo Users: By creating Plaxo Cards that contain optional information that you fill out about yourself in the form of a Business Card and a Personal Card, you choose what information to send to each person. If you choose to designate a Plaxo Card as "public," this means that if a Plaxo member includes you in their address book with one of the email addresses on the "public" card, that member will automatically receive changes you make to that card. This automatically ensures that all such users have a consistent set of contact information for you. To make a Plaxo Card "public", you must enable "Allow people who know my email address to look up this information."
 
For Plaxo non-users: A person responding to an update request has complete control over what information they provide when responding to each update request. Plaxo makes no attempt to edit or otherwise synchronize the contents of their response.
 
12. How many updates are sent to those contacts who have not responded to an update request?
 
You can choose the number of updates to be sent to a person, although it is usually one at a time.
 
13. What happens to the data of those contacts who do not respond to updates? Does Plaxo keep that data, and if so, what use is made of it?
 
This data is simply part of the user?s contact list (Your Contact List) and treated accordingly.
 
The data remains as part of the Plaxo user?s contact list.
 
14. In my testing I've noticed that Plaxo has no clear way of measuring whether a contact has already opened a profile with Plaxo. So, say, I have you in my Outlook and want it updated. As I understand it, an email is sent to you automatically, without Plaxo first checking to see whether a profile of you already exists. Some users have complained to me that they have received several such requests from different people, and that they're tired of manually updating each request. Could you explain how this feature works, and confirm my understanding?
 
Plaxo members do not receive update emails if the email address used is one of the member?s validated emails.
 
If the person you are sending the update request to is not a Plaxo member, they will receive an email from you containing the information that you currently have in your address book about them and requesting for them to verify and correct it in an email reply.
 
However, if the person that you are sending the update request to is a Plaxo member, you will automatically receive whatever public information is available. This Plaxo member will receive a Notification (see "What are Notifications?") that this has occurred and asks them if they would like to send more information.
 
Plaxo also offers an Autoreply account on the web for those users that cannot or do not wish to download the Plaxo software, but still want to automatically respond to update request emails coming from Plaxo members. When you create this account you enter the information that you want Plaxo to automatically reply with. By creating this account, you are automatically granting permission to share the information to anyone who sends you a Plaxo update request email.
 
15. OK, another question. You've clearly been very successful marketing this product, given the number of people already asking others to update their info. How did you manage this? Any particular tricks?
 
The product definitely has a word of mouth appeal to it. We hope many people will be interested in using Plaxo Contacts once they learn about it from their professional contacts and friends. Also, there?s no limit -- Plaxo Contacts works if you have 15 contacts or 15000 contacts.
 

[ Software: another spam option ]

 Here's yet another free anti-spam option, courtesy of reader Ross Judson:SpamBayes.
 
 
SpamBayes uses the same kind of filters as POPFile. Ross reports 99%+ accuracy after two weeks, after 'training' the software on some 1,000 spam messages he keeps about the house. 

July 2, 2003
[ News: Flushing Nemo ]

 Wireless Flash reports that the movie Finding Nemo, about a fish that escapes from its tank by getting flushed down a dentist's spitoon, is inspiring some idealistic kids to flush their pets down the toilet.
 
 
RotoRooter plumbers report their technicians in Los Angeles have "rooted out a whole zooyard of critters from American toilets including frogs, ducks and snakes", Wireless Flash reports. Last week, a plumber rescued a five-week old puppy from a drainpipe in Demossville, Kentucky, and another couple even tried to flush a cat down their commode. Other bizarre animals found in drains include Cornish game hens, pot-bellied pigs and even a talking parakeet.
 
RotoRooter officials, despite their motto being 'And Away Go Troubles Down the Drain', hope to nip the "Finding Nemo" flushing fad in the bud with a campaign called DON?T FLUSH NEMO!, pointing out:
  • Pipes are not connected to the ocean
  • Flushing a fish down the toilet will not help them find freedom. It actually will provide less freedom because the pipes are smaller than most fish bowls, and, er, finally,
  • There's no fish food in the toilet.
So now you know.

[ Software: Mozilla browser gets serious ]

 
 The open-source web browser Mozilla is back. The newest release, 1.4, wins the approval of eWEEK Labs, which found the new features "remarkable improvements that enhance what was already the best browser option out there". These include different launch options for startup, new windows and new tabs, changes in popup blocking and image management, bookmark handling an improved HTML editor, a mail client that includes a Bayesian anti-spam filter.
 
Also released the same day as Mozilla 1.4 was Netscape 7.1, based on the Mozilla 1.4 code. Not much difference between them, but eWEEK suggests that "novice users will find it easier to get plug-ins running in Netscape". Both are free.
 
This is the last version of a browser/email client, eWEEK say. Next time they'll come in two separate versions.

[ Software: Spam Bully out of beta ]

 Spam Bully, an email spam filter that integrates into Outlook and Outlook Express, is now out of beta and officially ready to go.
 
 
I haven't given Spam Bully a test run, but it uses Bayesian Filters, an approach I wrote about a few weeks back, so in theory should work well.
 
From their press release: "Spam Bully's self-learning email filter uses a probability based mathematical theory developed by 18th century British clergyman Thomas Bayes. Bayes' theorem is based on the number of times an event has or has not occurred and the likelihood it will occur in the future. Using Bayes' theories in conjunction with email filtration allows Spam Bully to determine the probability that an email is "spam" based on the words it contains. Spam Bully's Bayesian filter was created from over 35,000 spam messages, allowing it to intelligently learn which words spammers are likely to use. Spam Bully will adapt itself to a user's own email preferences and over time continually adjusts to new types of spam."
 
Spam Bully costs $30.

July 1, 2003
[ News: Amazon customers snap up $10 'goodies' ]

 From the 'people will buy anything so long as you don't tell them what it is and it comes in a box' department, Wired reports of a new service from Amazon, where customers can buy a Goodie Box of 1 to 5 "goodies" -- freebies, basically -- from software publishers randomly dropped into a box. Technically it's free, since the box costs $10 but includes a $10 mail-in rebate. (The buyer pays for shipping, which starts at $4, and one assumes most folk forget to mail the rebate coupon.)
Recent boxes included a Microsoft Money trial CD, a CD wallet from Roxio, a Photoshop Album Starter Edition CD from Adobe and some Post-It cubes from Apple.
 
Needless to say, since the service started in May it's been so popular they've sold out and are waiting to get more stuff. I can well believe something like this is popular. Any time I've mentioned I've got cupboards full of this kind of stuff, folk send me emails asking me to send it their way. Short answer: no. Bids start at $10.

[ News: Bloggers free to speak ]

 Bloggers Gain Libel Protection 
 
Wired reports that the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last Tuesday that Web loggers, website operators and e-mail list editors (folk like me, in other words) can't be held responsible for libel for information they republish, extending crucial First Amendment protections to do-it-yourself online publishers.
 
The ruling, the Wired article by Xeni Jardin says, effectively differentiates conventional news media, which can be sued relatively easily for libel, from certain forms of online communication such as moderated e-mail lists. One implication is that DIY publishers like bloggers cannot be sued as easily.
 
My tuppence? It's good news in the sense that blogs and the like are more like commentaries, and therefore free speech, than publications. But that doesn't mean they should not strive to be accurate, and differentiate between facts and opinions: Product X does A, B and C; I don't think it's any good because of D, E and, er, F. Blogs on specific topics (I'm not talking about daily journals about what your pet tortoise has been up to, unless it happens to be designing a new Bluetooth standard) will only be read if they're considered to be reliable, if not authoritative.

[ Update: AlphaSmart to go wireless ]

 The folk at AlphaSmart tell me that yesterday they showed off the next generation version of Dana, the cool word-processing keyboard I reviewed a few weeks ago, at the National Educating Computer Conference in Seattle. (Their website has no details so far.)
 
 
The new model offers built-in Wi-Fi technology (802.11b), allowing Dana users to access email and the Internet wirelessly. AlphaSmart will launch the model before the next school year and hope this will "enhance Dana?s position as a true laptop alternative". Dana Wireless also offers a better display and additional fonts.

[ Software: Jot this ]

 Jot+ Notes, one of those programs that never go out of style, is today into its third version. Jot+ Notes is a note/cardfile program with an added dimension: each note can have sub-notes, which in turn can have their own sub-notes, until you end up with a hierarchical tree or outline of notes. Sounds complicated? It's not.
 
 
It's very simple, and great for any loosely structured information -- stuff that's too important to just leave in a text file, but too vague to put in , say, Outlook. It's good for address books (it even has an Autodial function), diaries/journals, Internet links/bookmarks, e-books, or just random notes.
 
A few of the many improvements in Jot+ Notes 3.0:
  • Improved editor, with more formatting options, plus support for embedded objects and images.
  • Plugins, to extend Jot+ Notes even further.
  • Enhanced import/export, with new XML support and enhanced HTML and CSV support.
  • Modern user interface, with colorful icons, configurable toolbars, configurable keyboard shortcuts, and XP theme support.
  • Note titles can be displayed in different styles with a choice of icon from a large library.
  • Notefile compression reduces notefile size by up to 90%.
Jot+ costs $30, or $9 (or free) for upgrades from previous versions, depending on when you bought it. I've checked the program out, and it's good, very good. Gripes? It would replace my address book entirely if only it came with a version I could run on my Palm/Pocket PC.
 

June 30, 2003
[ Update: Wanna virus with your spam? ]

 Intriguingly, spam declined as a percentage of overall Internet message traffic in June, according to the folk who measure this kind of thing best. MessageLabs, a provider of managed email security services, said today that the global ratio of spam in email was 1 in 2.6 or 34.4% this month, a decrease of 35.3% over last month's figures, which peaked at 1 in every 1.8 emails (55.1%) when I wrote about spam earlier this month. This isn't necessarily good news, though: spam has continued its dramatic increase in 2003, rising 38.5% on the year to date.
 
 
Other depressing features:
  • Nearly 60-70% of spam is now sent through "hijacked" open-proxy computers: this reflects a disturbing new trend, that viruses are getting more commercially minded, or spammers are getting sleazier, depending on how you look at it. The Sobig viruses, MessageLabs say, "highlighted the growing link between virus-writing and spam techniques in the use of viruses to hijack victims' computers for mass spam mailings. The Sobig viruses include the ability to install a back-door Trojan on an infected machine that
    then renders it vulnerable for use by spammers to utilize the bandwidth of that machine and then send spam messages; this is known as an "open-proxy," and is a particular problem for "always-on" broadband-type connections.
  • June saw viruses increase by 13.6% over the previous month: every 125th email was a virus.
  • In the U.S., Marketing, Media, Publishing and Retail industries saw the largest increases in spam in June.

[ Software: PaperMaster Pro - worth the wait? ]

 It's been nearly five years some folk have been waiting, but it looks like PaperMaster, a great program for scanning and organizing your paperwork, is back.
 
PaperMaster is back
PaperMaster -- the last full version was 98, to give you some idea how long this software's been hibernating -- was pretty good. It look liked a filing cabinet, and let you scan and store more or less anything you could squeeze through your scanner. The company was sold to j2, which is basically an Internet faxing service and which were very, very quiet about the software until last year, when in response to public interest (well me, and a couple of other people) they released PaperMaster2002, an upgrade for existing licensed users of PaperMaster98 "who have migrated or are planning to migrate to the Microsoft® Windows 2000, XP, or ME operating system".
 
That version wasn't cheap -- $150 -- and didn't do much apart from resolve a few of the features of PaperMaster98 that wouldn't work under XP (unless you happened to stumble across some tweaks that fans had posted to websites). Earlier this year, when I complained about the cost of what was basically a minor upgrade, j2 told me "the PaperMaster upgrade was completed primarily for a few select users who were figuratively beating down j2 Global's door to get the new product. The cost of the upgrade was a result of j2 Global investing significant resources to complete an upgrade designed for limited distribution. Based on customer response, j2 Global's PaperMaster users seem to be fine with the price". Not what I heard, but there you go.
 
Anyway, Pro is here. Nearly. You can pre-order and get 15% off the retail price of $199 (once again, not cheap). Still, it sounds as if it has some serious features
  •    Create PDFs from any office application or scan
  •    Organize fast and easy
  •    Find anything in seconds
  •    Get powerful OCR - Never re-type any document
  •    Fax easier via the Internet with built-in eFax®
All of which sound useful. I'll review it once I've got hold of a copy. Earlier release date was set for today, so that could be soon. If you're in a hurry, see my recent review of PaperPort, which does much the same thing.
 

about loose wire
musings, snippets, grievances and links on personal technology by dow jones columnist jeremy wagstaff. I want to hear from users -- technology-related stories, complaints, thoughts, ideas, brickbats -- so please email me

my columns appear in
The Far Eastern Economic Review and
The Wall Street Journal Online.
both are owned by Dow Jones.

see below for subscription links -- sorry, but the columns are only available to subscribers.

companies, PR agencies etc, please send relevant news, pitches, product review requests here. happy to hear from you, but I stress the word 'relevant'.

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