Better Backups: Need to back up your data to CDs and DVDs? You don't need two separate software applications for the separate formats: Roxio's Easy CD & DVD Creator 6.0 (www.roxio.com) does it all. The $99.95 (all prices street) application now supports all major writeable DVD formats and includes a drag-to-disc feature that makes it easier to use. Also included is the new DVD Builder, which lets you create DVD movies from various video sources.
Surfin' Safari: Speed up your surfing with Apple's Safari browser for Mac OSX, currently available as a free beta (www.apple.com). At 3MB, it's quick to download, but it also loads pages quickly and features a clutter-free interface that includes a built-in Google search tool. Safari does lack customization features, though. You can block pop-up ads and third-party cookies, but you can't specify sites from which you might wish to accept them. (You can program it to accept cookies from sites you navigate to, but not sites you get to indirectly.)
Tighter Security: Instant messaging is getting more secure with AOL's Enterprise AIM Services (www.aim.com). Employees use the same AIM client, but behind the scenes is the Enterprise AIM Gateway. This software sits behind the company's firewall and allows the IT staff to manage IM traffic, log and audit messages, and limit access to certain features, such as file transfers. An optional feature allows businesses to create consistent user identities for employees. Pricing starts at $34 per user per year.
Liane Cassavoy, a former technology reporter at PCWorld.com, freelances from her home in Brookline, Massachusetts.