The Eye Has It
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Okay, so I review Photoshop on the next page, but granted, there are some things it just can't do--or can't do without considerable effort. Enter Eye Candy 3.0, a Photoshop add-on that enables you to create graphic effects more easily and with arguably more dramatic results. This latest version has 11 new filters--fire, smoke, fur, chrome, perspective shadow, star, antimatter, squint, jiggle, weave and water drops--for a total of 21. It's a must for fanatics who would rather spend all night creating an astounding image than do something silly like sleep.
Eye Candy 3.0
street Price: $129
requires: a Windows or Macintosh computer that can run Adobe Photoshop 3.0.4 or higher; Paint Shop Pro 4.12 or higher; Corel Photo-Paint 8 Plus or higher; Microsoft Image Composer 1.5
maker: Alien Skin Software (Raleigh, North Carolina)
phone/web site: (919) 832-4124, http://www.alienskin.com
Joe Dysart (email@example.com) is a software analyst and Internet business consultant. His work has appeared in more than 40 publications, including The New York Times.
Get A Clue
Net surfers may tsk (go ahead, knock yourself out), but AOL is still one of the best, easiest and most painless ways to introduce yourself to cyberspace. Indeed, you pretty much need a doctorate from Clueless U. not to get up and running on AOL with just a little trial and error. If you're an experienced user, you'll like the fact that AOL's 4.0 Browser lets you switch between screen names without logging off, check e-mail spelling and grammar, and attach more than one file to an e-mail message.
AOL 4.0 Browser
price: free with $21.95 per month aol membership
requires: a 486 computer or higher; Windows 3.1, 95 or 98; 30MB hard-drive space; a 14.4 Kbps or higher modem; Macintosh version available
maker: America Online (Dulles, Virginia)
phone/web site: (703) 265-2120, http://www.aol.com
Crash? No Big Deal
No longer do I bang my head against the wall after Windows or my program or both suddenly crash and I lose all my work. Instead, I use RAMShield to protect my PC against the vagaries of running multiple, resource-hungry applications. I'll skip the techie explanation--just know that when you load RAMShield on your system, you'll see fewer "General Protection Fault" and "Illegal Operation" notices. A major bonus: The software uses no memory/resource compression techniques that can lead to unwanted side effects.
requires: a 486 computer or higher; Windows 95 or higher; 8MB RAM; 5MB hard-DRIVE space; a CD-ROM
maker: Imsi (Novato, California)
phone/web site: (415) 257-3000, http://www.imsisoft.com
The Real Thing
Business users with only peripheral graphics needs can probably get away with a less-expensive program. But for serious graphics aficionados looking for industrial-strength performance, nothing but the real McCoy will do. Adobe Photoshop 5.0 is it. Chances are, virtually everything you wished you could do with an image--combine, paint, modify, go crazy with filtering effects--can be done with this program. New features include multiple levels of undo, extremely customizable text, and new tools such as a magnetic pen and magnetic lasso.
requires: an IBM-compatible Pentium or higheR; Windows 95 or higher; 32MB RAM; 80MB hard-dRIVE space; 256-color/8-bit adaptoR; a CD-ROM
maker: Adobe Systems (San Jose, California)
Phone/web site: (408) 536-6000, http://www.adobe.com
Think of it as the cyber-equivalent of someone keying your car. It probably won't ever happen, but it would be nice to be able to protect yourself just in case. In return for full 24/7 protection, ViruSweep adds just 5 to 7 seconds to your PC's boot time--an easy trade-off for relative peace of mind. The program is designed to protect against specific, known viruses. Plus, it guards against virus-like acts--such as unconventional software attempts to reformat your hard drive or load destructive code into memory. ViruSweep protects against Net-borne viruses as well. And registered users can visit the Web site for free updates and virus news. Another bonus: ViruSweep doesn't interfere with the launching of other applications--unlike some other programs.
requires: a 486 computer or higher; Windows 95 or higher; 8MB RAM; 12MB hard-DRIVE space; a CD-ROM or 3.5-inch floppy disk drive
maker: Quarterdeck, (Marina del Rey, California)
phone/web site: (800) 683-6696, http://www.quarterdeck.com
If you're already sharp enough to create your own custom Web site banners, backgrounds, buttons, bullets and the like from scratch, bless you. For the rest of the great unwashed, there's NetStudio. This easy-to-use program enables you to rocket your Web site from dreary to dramatic without being fitted with a propeller. Best feature: its easy-to-grasp, no-nonsense, learn-by-doing tutorials.
requires: an IBM-compatible Pentium or higher; Windows 95 or higher; 16MB RAM; 30MB hard-DRIVE space; a CD-ROM
maker: Netstudio (Berkeley, California)
phone/web site: (510) 644-9700, http://www.netstudio.com