Stories by Harry McCracken

  • Netgear Stora: your terabyte for the web

    It’s been a busy few days for the whole idea of networked hard drives that provide direct Internet connections so you can get to them from everywhere. Last week, Seagate introduced DockStar, a $99 add-on for its FreeAgent Go drives that provides browser-based access to their contents. And today Netgear launched Stora, an all-in-one network drive with Web access.

  • Backup goes peer-to-peer

    I’m still in the audience at the DEMOFall conference, and still taking in demonstrations of new products and services. One of the cooler ideas this morning is Symform, a small-business remote-backup service. Technically, it’s utterly unlike services such as Mozy and Carbonite: Those services store everything in massive server farms, but Symform is farm-free–it uses peer-to-peer technology to store backups on the PCs of other Symform users. If you wanna back up 10GB of data, for instance, you agree to devote 10GB of disk space to other folks’ backups–and to leave your computer on 80 percent of the time.

  • Windows 7 Review

    What if a new version of Windows didn't try to dazzle you? What if, instead, it tried to disappear except when you needed it? Such an operating system would dispense with glitzy effects in favor of low-key, useful new features. Rather than pelting you with alerts, warnings, and requests, it would try to stay out of your face. And if any bundled applications weren't essential, it would dump 'em.

  • Seagate's DockStar connects your hard drives

    A few months ago I reviewed Pogoplug, a gizmo that lets you connect USB drives directly to the Internet for access from anywhere. I said the best thing about it was the slick, simple service that let you get to your files from any browser. Seagate seems to like the Pogoplug service, too!

  • Windows 7: the good, the bad, and the unknown

    For most people who are considering moving to Windows 7, October 22 is D-Day. On that date Microsoft's newest operating system lands on store shelves, both as a shrinkwrapped upgrade and preinstalled on new PCs. For some folks, though, D-Day has already arrived. Microsoft has issued the final RTM (release to manufacturing) version of Windows 7 to large companies that buy Windows via volume licenses, as well as to IT pros who belong to its Technet service. The Windows Vista era is officially drawing to a close--although you could argue that it never really quite started--and the Windows 7 one is under way.

  • Smartphone OS smackdown: WebOS vs. the world

    Does the world need another smartphone operating system? Apple's iPhone OS is still booming; Google's Android is increasingly promising; and three longtime contenders--Microsoft's Windows Mobile, RIM's BlackBerry OS, and Symbian's S60--are undergoing serious renovation to keep up with the times.

  • Eight reasons your next computer should be a PC

    Let's just say it: For the vast majority of computer shoppers, buying a Windows PC doesn't quite qualify as a decision. Around nine out of ten computers run one version of Windows or another, making it the world's default option in operating systems. It's opting for something else, like a Mac, that always represents a conscious choice.

  • 25 computer products that refuse to die

    Old computer products, like old soldiers, never die. They stay on the market--even though they haven't been updated in eons. Or their names get slapped on new products that are available only outside the U.S. Or obsessive fans refuse to accept that they're obsolete--long after the rest of the world has moved on.

  • The 10 worst Microsoft product names of all time

    If Microsoft had invented the iPod, it would have been called the Microsoft I-pod Pro 2005 Human Ear Professional Edition. The <cult-hit video that makes that assertion may have been a joke, but it rings true. And when word emerged that the video was a self-parody produced within Microsoft, the point was even clearer: The world's largest software developer just isn't very good at naming stuff.

  • MacBook Air: How incomplete is it?

    Steve Jobs is, among many other things, the great denier. Second mouse buttons, floppy drives, 56-kbps modems--for decades, he's been perfectly willing to release producrs that lack one or more features that are standard equipment on everyone else's computers if he thinks they're unnecessary or offend his design principles or aesthetic sense.

  • Apple's entry-level laptop is a winner

    With its new MacBook, Apple has filled out its Intel-based portable line with an entry-level model. But this mobile Macintosh packs so many clever, practical features into its compact case that using it never feels like a compromise.

  • Apple's entry-level laptop is a winner

    With its new MacBook, Apple has filled out its Intel-based portable line with an entry-level model. But this mobile Macintosh packs so many clever, practical features into its compact case that using it never feels like a compromise.

  • Compaq, HP get into home music

    If you need evidence that the much-predicted convergence of computers and consumer electronics may finally be upon us, consider this: the latest devices from PC heavyweights Compaq and Hewlett-Packard are now competing head-to-head for a place in your stereo system. Following HP's recent announcement of its Digital Entertainment Center, Compaq unveiled its similar iPaq Music Center at PC Expo/TechXNY in New York last week.

  • TECHXNY - Compaq unveils PCs that accept credit cards

    Your local supermarket probably lets you pay for purchases by swiping your credit card through a reader. Why not give home PCs the same capability? That's the idea behind Compaq's new Smart Credit Card Internet Keyboard, announced here this week at PC Expo/TechX NY.

  • MS Office 2000 Offers New Apps and Web Tools

    Microsoft office 2000 is here--in spirit. True, the upgrade to the 800-pound gorilla of office suites won't ship until the second quarter of this year. But in the meantime, Microsoft's site is hawking a beta version it calls a "Preview." Available now, nearly feature complete, and surprisingly stable, the Preview provides a solid picture of what to expect in the final version.