Power User cleans up disks, reviews books and chases a Tiger
Have you ever gotten a few scratches on a CD audio disk that made it skip? The same
thing happens to far costlier CD-ROM program and data disks, and replacement costs can
really add up.
Damaged program and archival disks will proliferate as time goes by because users have
been led to expect CDs to last for years. But when they get passed around an office or
library, rather than protected inside a CD server, they're bound to suffer wear and tear.
Esprit Development Corp. of Flemington, N.J., has come up with a solution--literally.
Its Wipe Out polishing solution removes surface scratches from any optical disk's clear
The $15 Wipe Out CD Repair Kit will take scratches off about 80 CD-ROMs, audio CDs or
digital video disks, or a fair number of the larger video disks.
I tried Wipe Out, and it works. Even if it doesn't work every time, the disks are
ruined anyway, so what do you have to lose? Note that this is not just another cleaner
kit, which can do more harm than good if you clean too often.
Wipe Out polishes the scratches off the clear layer that protects the reflective layer
containing data. The clear layer holds no information, so even deep scratches are fixable
as long as they don't reach the lower layer.
Anyone who handles optical disks carelessly--you know who you are--should buy Wipe Out.
Look for it at computer stores or visit the Web at http://www.cdrepair.com.
GCN doesn't often review technology books, because there are so many and they become
outdated so quickly. Of the five books I wrote, only one is still current. It deals with
technology for the disabled, which changes slowly.
Recently I've seen books I'd like to recommend, because they held up well after
publication or they are updated frequently.
If your job involves Web publishing for your agency, you need basic books on using
Hypertext Markup Language. Here are two good books for novices, both published by Sams.net
Publishing of Indianapolis:
Want a great introduction to Internet security? You can't go wrong with Internet
Cryptography, by Richard E. Smith, from Addison Wesley Longman Inc. of Reading, Mass.
Whether you're new to the topic or understand basic cryptography but are unfamiliar
with TCP/IP and the IP Security Protocol, this book will help you apply cryptographic
security. Only folks who work at the National Security Agency won't need a copy.
A good introduction to Microsoft Windows NT networking that's perfect for inexperienced
network managers is Windows NT Server 4, by Katanjit S. Siyan, second edition, New
Riders Publishing of Indianapolis.
This $65 hardbound book covers Windows NT Server 4.0 installation and management. The
1,400-plus pages go into a lot of detail but start out with a good introduction to network
concepts and take you through a server installation in detail.
If you've been tasked with setting up and managing your first NT network, this book
should make the task possible, if not exactly easy. Experienced network managers will find
the book useful, too.
Recently I wrote in this space about a low-end PC I bought from TigerDirect Inc. of
Miami [GCN, Feb. 23, Page 41]. It arrived dead, and I had trouble getting any help
from the company.
Tiger support at firstname.lastname@example.org did
contact me and made the usual suggestions for fixes I had already tried. They never
mentioned trying to reseat the memory chips, which had loosened in shipping.
Having loaded the software from CD-ROMs, I hadn't used the floppy drive at first. When
I did, it would not format disks properly or read files from diskettes formatted on other
This started another round with Tiger tech support, which I mention because it shows
the first round wasn't a fluke. Multiple sends to the e-mail address brought no response.
Because a new floppy drive cost less than my time to continue the round of letters and
phone calls to other Tiger contacts, I gave up and replaced the drive myself.
John McCormick, a free-lance writer and computer consultant, has been working with
computers since the early 1960s.