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Where to stash your stuff   -  Take a load off your hard drive
New technology lets you make movies
Navigation program helps you find what you want on Web sites







Where to stash your stuff   - 

Knight Ridder News Service

Did you know you can store stuff online? Many websites offer free storage of almost anything that can be reduced to a computer file, including documents, music and pictures.

The idea is that you can get at your important recipes, listen to your own music, or share the family photo album from anywhere. It can also take a load off your hard drive.

 My Docs Online

We stored a lengthy list of contacts here, and found the service easy to use from the office or home. It can also be accessed from wireless devices.

Anything you store here can be shared with friends, who, if you choose, get an e-mail telling them that a file is waiting.



FreeDrive is preconfigured with storage folders full of promotional offers. Hey, it's free; so they have to make money somehow. The company offers FD Sync, software can make your PC automatically send backup files to the Web.

Unfortunately, FreeDrive has closed a part of its service that allowed public file-sharing. Turned out software pirates used it for illegal trading.



There are still software files, MP3 music files, and tons of Britney Spears pictures for public consumption at this storage site under the NBCi umbrella. The site offers 500 megabytes of free space, about the most generous on the Web.



``Hide your resume where your boss can't find it,'' or ``Have safe X,'' suggests this site in a reference to its password-protection. Xdrive gives users 25 megabytes of space for storage, and extra space if you agree to receive advertisements or refer others to the service.




Like other sites, i-drive offers a download that puts an icon on the Windows desktop, which then can be used to drag-and-drop files straight to your storage space on the service.

Another nifty download, called Filo, lets you ``clip and save'' whole Web pages for later reference -- good for saving news pages that may be gone a day after they appear online.


2001 KnightRidder.com

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New technology lets you make movies


Mercury News

So, you're a devoted do-it-yourselfer. A tinkerer at heart. And you wouldn't dream of having someone else digitize your home movies: Why should they have all the fun?

You'll find a wealth of home digital video products to bring out the inner Spielberg.

Importing data

Dazzle's Hollywood DV-Bridge: This extravagantly named product captures and converts analog videotape to digital form, so it can be imported into the computer and edited with Apple's iMovie or Final Cut Pro software or PC video editing programs, such as Microsoft's Movie Maker. The external device plugs into the computer's 1394 FireWire interface, enabling anyone who owns a video camera to plug into the computer's high-speed digital video port.

The Hollywood DV-Bridge ships with Dazzle's Main Actor software, a powerful editing tool that allows you to add titling, scene transitions and other special effects. You can also output the digital video to VCR tape -- for easier sharing -- or burn it directly onto CD. It retails for $299.

Don't want to spend that much? Dazzle offers the Dazzle Digital Video Creator 80 video connectors, an external, hockey-puck-sized accessory that lets you capture video and audio directly from the camcorder and import it into the computer. It comes with VideoWare 4 software to add titles, clean up images and add sound. It retails for $70.

Authoring tools

MyDVD: Sonic Solutions of Novato offers this inexpensive authoring product that puts DVD-quality video onto CDs. Its software lets you add a professional touch through chapter titles, background images and navigation features. Its tools let you record DVD-quality MPEG-2 video onto a CD that will play on most Windows-based PCs and DVD players. It retails for $99.

Pinnacle Systems' Studio software also allows you to author video CDs and DVDs, using either Moving Picture Experts Group's MPEG-1 standard, which is roughly equivalent to VHS tape or the higher-quality MPEG-2 format. It retails for $99.

2001 KnightRidder.com

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Navigation program helps you find what you want on Web sites


Mercury News

The Web is supposed to make our lives easier by putting information at our fingertips.

But when search engines offer tens of thousands of sites related to your topic of interest, that Internet experience can become overwhelming. Within a Web site, trying to find the right product you're after can be a daunting task. (For an example of hassles you can find even at a big player see Online story on this page.)

That's why Massachusetts-based Endeca has developed a Web navigation program that brings search results down to a more manageable number.

The technology premiers Monday on findflicks.com, a database of VHS and DVD movies. Findflicks, which directs users to other sites to purchase movies, is using Endeca's program to help users quickly find what they are looking for on the site. Even if you're not in the market for a new movie, it's worth heading over to the site to see first-hand how the navigational program makes Web searching easier.

It's all about questions and answers, said Endeca CEO Steve Papa.

``That's the difference between navigation and search,'' Papa said. ``Now we have all the questions presented before us instead of us having to figure out what questions to ask. When someone gives you all the questions, you're able to do your job more efficiently.''

Papa offers as an example searching a movie database for John Wayne films.

An initial search brought back 213 John Wayne films and a series of links on the left side of the screen. When you click on Westerns, the number of results drops to 153. When you refine the search further by clicking on ``Classic Fight Scenes,'' the number of results drops to five.

``We send you to a John Wayne store to navigate your way around,'' he said.

The Web pages, which are specific to the users' navigational choices, are dynamically created, Papa said.

That's a plus for Web designers who may be concerned about having to build individual pages for every possible scenario within their databases.

``Let's say I'm Borders and I have 10,000 videos I want to mark down,'' he said. ``Normally, I'd have to manually create new Web pages. Instead, I could take a spreadsheet of the 10,000 movies and put the word clearance in the next cell and send it back into the system. We now have a clearance store without having people sit down to create more Web pages. It's all done dynamically.''

Movie databases, he said, are a good springboard for an introduction to the technology.

But Papa said it goes beyond consumer benefits.

Any company with any database -- lawyers with a client list, doctors who track patients, medications and diseases, or a chip manufacturer who tracks specifications, inventories, vendors and customers -- could make intranet navigation easier for its employees.

Certainly, Endeca is not the only company trying to solve the Web search problem. But many are only scratching the surface, Papa said.

``You have to better understand what the user is looking for,'' he said. ``You want a direction so you can keep asking the user more questions and offer more choices.''

In the John Wayne example, the user is asking for the names of John Wayne movies. The database offers more choices, allowing the user to ask for John Wayne westerns and then further ask which of those had fight scenes.

``The users don't know they're asking questions,'' Papa said. ``They give us an idea and we help them form better questions. It's all about navigating with precision and certainty.''


Visit www.endeca.com for more information about the company or to see a free demo using a wine database.

Contact Sam Diaz at sdiaz@sjmercury.com or (408) 920-5021.

2001 KnightRidder.com



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Last modified: June 22, 2002