Tech bits Featured

9:52am EDT July 22, 2002

Sweep it under the rug

Norton CleanSweep can improve your PC’s performance by completely and safely removing unneeded programs and files. This product gets rid of extraneous items while protecting vital files, programs and Windows settings.

The program will clean your hard drive of cookies, ActiveX controls, plug-ins and downloaded programs left over from Internet sessions. CleanSweep’s graphical interface shows how much space can be recovered and can be scheduled to automatically remove files any time you want.

For more information, go to

Who’s on first?

TimeDance has a free, Web-based group scheduling service that streamlines the process of proposing, scheduling and managing group meetings or events. TimeDance ( eliminates the time-consuming and frustrating phone and e-mail tag usually required to schedule an event by providing a universal and efficient solution, regardless of IT infrastructure or calendar preference.

TimeDance requires that only the meeting organizer be a registered user. To register, users provide their name, time zone (for accurate scheduling) and active e-mail account. The organizer can set up a meeting one of two ways: send an announcement via e-mail with detailed information and feedback opportunities to a list of invited guests, or request available times from potential participants. TimeDance consolidates responses and allows the organizer to select the best time based on user availability. All interaction is initiated via e-mail without requiring invited guests to register or divulge any personal information.

This town is my town is an informational site for entrepreneurs, small business owners and operators. It provides a comprehensive guide for planning, starting, growing and managing a small business. Visitors may freely access hundreds of articles addressing dozens of business topics, participate in forums and connect to resources on the Web.

Uh oh

Forty-five percent of Y2K experts believe the millennium bug will have significant impact on the world; another 10 percent believe its effects will be drastic, according to the Washington D.C. Year 2000 Group.

In contrast, 45 percent believe problems caused by the millennium bug will be minor.

The findings are based on a survey of 337 U.S. Y2K professionals surveyed across five areas: the economy, business, infrastructure, society and government.

Two-thirds of Y2K professionals believe the effect of the millennium bug on the U.S. economy will be substantial. Forty-five percent of those surveyed see the millennium bug causing at least a mild recession and increasing unemployment, while 11 percent predict a depression. One-third believe the bug will have little to no impact on the economy.

Fifty-seven percent say the effect on business will be minimal. In contrast, 35 percent predict it will be substantial, while 9 percent foresee a major collapse in the sector. In terms of infrastructure, 80 percent expect two to three blackout days, while 40 percent believe there will be substantial problems with urban infrastructure, with supply problems lasting between two and four weeks.

Where’s my wallet?

In a bid to cash in on the lucrative generation Y market, companies have devised “cyber allowance” schemes where parents can approve and control what their kids buy online. The digital cash schemes will allow parents to pay in advance for a certain amount of purchases with chosen retailers and sites.

In the money

In 1998, more than 37 million PCs were used for e-commerce activities, up 41 percent from the previous year, according to a report by InfoBeads. An estimated 26.4 million PCs were used for e-commerce activities in 1997.

The largest portion of the market went online to research products for offline purchase, increasing to 29.7 million in 1998 from 21.8 million in 1997. Nonetheless, the number of PCs used to complete an electronic purchase increased dramatically. The study estimates that more than 20 million PCs were used to make a purchase in 1998, up 72 percent on the previous year’s 11.6 million.

Spam, eggs, bacon

Seventy-four percent of Internet users believe their ISP should regulate spam targeted at their e-mail account, while 15 percent believe the responsibility lies with the government, according to the GarterGroup. When considering a new ISP, 75 percent of consumers take into account whether it provides a spam filtering service.

The study found that 90 percent of Internet users are spammed on a weekly basis, with 50 percent receiving spam on a daily basis. Time consumption, privacy invasion and basic offensiveness were the main reasons cited by consumers for their frustration with spam.

Twenty-four percent believe their ISP is providing spammers with their e-mail addresses, yet fewer than one in four actually complain. The study found the amount of unsolicited e-mail that a given user receives increases with the length of time he is subscribed to a particular ISP.

I’m banking on it

More than 32 million households in the U.S. will bank online by 2003, up from 6.6 million in 1998, according to a report by IDC Research. Further, 15,845 banks, representing 86 percent of U.S. banks, will offer an online service by 2003, up from 1,150, accounting for 6 percent, in 1998.

The report identifies three phases in the evolution of online banking. In the first, banks will provide an online service akin to that available through telephone banking, providing information on account balances and transactions.

The second phase will see the introduction of bill payment and reminder services, while the final phase will see direct marketing for credit and lending services, personalized finance management features and securities trading and insurance services.

Irish eyes are smiling

The number one Irish site in terms of traffic is the Irish Times, with 7.2 million page impressions per month, followed by Yahoo with 4.89 million PIPM, and the Virtual Irish Pub with 2.39 million PIPM.

Source: Nua Internet Surveys

Where are they now?

The top three e-commerce sites for U.S. users in May were Amazon, with 6.4 million unique visitors who spent an average of 15 minutes and 50 second at the site; Ebay, with 5.4 million unique visitors who spent an average of 2 hours and 42 minutes; and CDNow, with 2 million unique visitors who spent 15 minutes and 56 seconds. The five sites recording the greatest increase in unique visitor traffic in May were the Star Wars site, up 179 percent; World Wrestling Federation, up 83 percent; HomeArts, up 67 percent; Rolling Stone, up 65 percent; and, up 39 percent.

This space for rent

There has been a 7 percent drop in the number of U.S. companies advertising online over the past year, according to a report by the Association of National Advertisers.

The ANA estimates that 61 percent of U.S. companies advertise online, compared to 68 percent last year. Companies are investing less in online campaigns, spending an average of $649,000, down from $714,000 last year.

Companies cited the inability to prove a return-on-investment, unreliable measurement information and high CPM rates as the major disincentives to advertising online.

Sell! Sell! Sell!

The top five Internet brokers are increasing their hold on the market, with their overall market share rising to 71.3 percent from 67.5 percent. The top five include Charles Schwab, E*Trade, Toronto-Dominion Bank’s Waterhouse Securities, Datek Online and Fidelity Investments.

The surge in online trading over the last two years is attributed to heavy advertising, low commission rates and ease of use. The report estimates that 16 percent of all stock trades are now done online.

Source: Nua Internet Surveys

Over there

A survey from Pitney Bowes shows that the increasing amount of technology in the workplace is hindering productivity. The report found the majority of workers are interrupted by communications technology every 10 minutes.

The report found that in the U.K., 58 percent of office workers use voice mail every day; 36 percent use the Internet every day. In the U.S., 95 percent of office workers use voice mail daily; 70 percent use the Internet daily. Only 32 percent of German workers use voice mail daily, with 45 percent accessing the Net on a daily basis.

In the U.K., 42 percent started to use e-mail in the previous 12 months, compared to 23 percent in Germany and 31 percent in the U.S. The typical U.K. worker receives 171 e-mails per day, half generated in-house. The typical U.S. worker receives more than 200 e-mails per day.

There is a much higher use of mobile phones in the U.K. and of voice mail in the U.S.

Working at home

Symantec’s pcTelecommute is software geared for the telecommuter who works at home one to three days per week. Users can access corporate data and applications and files can be transferred to and from their office PC. They can use remote control to work on documents, send and receive faxes and screen calls to manage interruptions.

The program allows users to synchronize files to make sure they have the most current versions on both their office PC and home PC. At the end of the day, pcTelecommute reminds users which files have changed and prompts for an automatic file synchronization. Managers can keep informed of work progress through a log that records all files opened, calls made and faxes sent.

For more information:

What are you trying to say?

By 2005, 57 percent of Internet users will be non-English speakers, according to a report from Computer Economics.

While the number of English speaking users is expected to rise by 60 percent over the next six years, the number of non-English speaking Internet users is expected to increase 150 percent. Computer Economics estimates the total number of users worldwide will increase from 171 million this year to 345 million in 2005.

Currently, 54 percent of Internet users are English speaking, according to the report. By 2001, they will account for 51 percent, falling to 46 percent in 2003 and 43 percent by 2005. Non-English speaking users account for 46 percent of users, increasing to 49 percent by 2001, 54 percent in 2003 and 57 percent by 2005.

According to Michael Erbschloe, VP of Research at Computer Economics, there will be an increase in the number of multiple language sites; English will not be the default language on an increasing number of sites; and at some sites, English will not be offered as an option at all.

Show me the computer

Jobs created by the Internet industry account for more than 40 percent of all jobs added by the U.S. economy. Internet workers are 65 percent more productive than non-Internet workers.

Source: Nua Internet Surveys

Help me

Sixty-seven percent of online transactions are abandoned because of inadequate customer support, according to a study by Net Effect.

The report estimates that just 5.75 percent of visitors to e-commerce sites even begin the process of completing an online transaction. Net Effect found that more than two-thirds of consumers who place goods in their online shopping basket do not complete the purchase because the necessary real-time customer support is not available.

Good online customer service requires a complete and accessible consumer knowledge base, with a staff adept at using databases. Sites must provide a balanced combination of automated and personalized responses to questions, separating queries that require individual attention or a

phone call from those that require redirection to the FAQ.

Other customer service problems include deliveries, returns and product specifications, according to the report.

Captain America

The number of Web-literate CEOs around the world has increased significantly, with non-U.S. executives gaining ground on their North American counterparts, according to a survey by Andersen Consulting.

The study found that 92 percent of CEOs, CFOs and CIOs had Net access in1998, up from 90 percent in 1997, with 83 percent going online at least once a week, up from 71 percent the previous year. In addition, 50 percent of senior executives described themselves as feeling comfortable using the Web, up from 36 percent in 1997.

Crumbling foundations

A study from market research house NFO Interactive found that 24.1 percent of online consumers will spend less in bricks and mortar retail shops and more in virtual retail shops in the next six months.

Nearly 24 percent said the amount of money they spent on products and services in a given year increased when they shopped on the Internet.

The authors of the report commented that the move away from traditional retailing to online retailing is something retailers should not ignore. The Internet is fast becoming a medium for primary demand in the retail sector and businesses cannot afford to miss out.

Crash and burn

The Symantec Data Recovery Group repairs PC and Macintosh disks as well as ACT! and Q&A Databases, and restores data from backup archives. The group’s fee-based services are available to individual users and small to large-sized companies. Services are open to Symantec as well as non-Symantec customers.

The Symantec Data Recovery Group continues to help businesses salvage drives that have been attacked by the W95.CIH virus, often referred to as the CIH or the Chernobyl virus. Since Chernobyl’s payload triggered April 26, the Symantec Data Recovery Group has combined its extensive knowledge of file systems with powerful disk editing utilities to enable 55 companies to restore data thought to be unrecoverable because of infection by the virus. While other data recovery companies often charge thousands of dollars for repairs, the Symantec Data Recovery Group provides the most effective recovery services at the lowest price, with an average data recovery rate of 90 percent or higher and an average charge of $400 or less. For more information on Symantec Data Recovery, including pricing and service information, visit or call 541-984-7910.

Just browsing

Microsoft has taken a clear lead over Netscape in the browser wars, with 59 percent of corporate users using a version of Internet Explorer, according to Zona Research. The study found that while 49 percent of corporate users use the latest version of Internet Explorer, just 21 percent use the latest version of Netscape Communicator.

Overall, 69 percent of companies have a browser policy, with Microsoft IE the chosen browser of 62 percent of U.S. companies. The study found that Microsoft IE4X is the preferred browser of 57 percent of U.S. companies, with Netscape Communicator 4X the choice of just 17 percent.

MS Outlook and MS Outlook Express are the preferred e-mail software package in more than 80 percent of companies. The survey was conducted before the release of IE5.