Safer Surfing : Zone Labs has updated its popular firewall product, adding new tools to stop hackers and block e-mail worms. ZoneAlarm Pro 4 ( www.zonelabs.com ) now includes the ability to block outgoing messages sent by a PC already infected with a worm and offers a cache cleaner to improve system performance. The Pro version costs $50 (all prices street); the Plus version costs $40.
Discs Done Right : Nero 6.0 Ultra Edition ( www.nero.com ) may be thought of as a suite of CD and DVD recording tools, but it can do much more. The $99 application suite ($70 for the downloadable version) also includes a full backup program, a full-featured DVD authoring application and a software-based DVD player called Nero ShowTime. The included StartSmart application makes it easy for experts and novices alike to access the numerous features.
Accounting Made Easy : Save time with BillQuick 2003, a time-billing application from BQE Software Inc. ( www.bqe.com ). Designed for even one-person offices, BillQuick features complete integration with Intuit's QuickBooks and can import and export data to and from Intuit's Quicken, Microsoft Money and Peachtree. It's also integrated with Microsoft Outlook, allowing you to send invoices by e-mail. A two-user license costs $395.
Fix What's Broken: Don't waste time digging through your Microsoft Office documents fixing broken links. LinkFixerPlus from LinkTek ( www.linktek.com ) can do it for you. When you move or rename a linked file, LinkFixerPlus automatically renames the links in your files for you. Versions are available for Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint or the entire Office suite. Pricing varies from $119 to $398.
Liane Cassavoy, a former technology reporter at PCWorld.com, freelances from her home in Brookline, Massachusetts.