By Ara C. Trembly

Most of us who work in offices sit down at a computer each morning and prepare to do battle with forces that would keep us from getting our work done.

These distractions and nuisances include volumes of unsorted e-mail, lost files, spam (unsolicited commercial e-mail), pop-up ads, and even spyware, to name a few.

The good news is that there is no shortage of software utility products designed to rid us of these problems. Following are some recent introductions from technology vendors.

Creo Inc., based in Burnaby, B.C., Canada, has introduced Six Degrees, version 1.5, a software application that “automatically connects and displays related e-mail messages, files and people on the desktop.”

According to Mark Lemmons, director of the Creative Software Group for Creo, the average person spends 49 minutes per day managing his or her e-mail–moving, filing, archiving, etc.

“Six Degrees automatically builds a comprehensive database of your important data. Youve got questions, it has answers,” says Lemmons. The desktop application provides keyword access by “relationship,” indexing subject names, who sent the message, who received the message, and other important parameters.

“It doesnt replace any other programs,” he adds. “It works alongside Microsoft Outlook.”

A setup of Six Degrees involving up to 50,000 messages takes about 90 minutes, says Lemmons. The utility operates on Microsoft Windows 2000 and XP and on the Mac OS X, but it will not run on Windows 98, he notes.

Six Degrees also updates automatically “in real time,” says Creo.

A free 30-day trial of Six Degrees can be downloaded at www.creo.com/sixdegrees, the company adds. The product is priced at $99.

Another suite of products that “builds a knowledge base of information on a computer” was introduced by Norwalk, Calif.-based Neutrino Technologies.

The NeuDESK Suite contains nine modules designed to help users manage their desktop information where “the average user spends 70% to 80% of his or her time during daily activities,” says Ashok Suresh, CEO and founder of Neutrino.

“Our view is that the computer should understand a users need, rather than a user having to learn how to use the computer,” he continues. The new suite “will virtually eliminate a lot of keystrokes, mouse-clicking and hopping through layers of menus.”

Using the suite of products, a computer can search, manage, link and display information based on commands input in “natural language,” says Suresh. “Plus, as voice technology becomes widely used, NeuDESK will allow you to input commands using your voice, further reducing typing and clicking.”

The user types natural language commands to get the computer to retrieve files, check e-mail, create notes, schedule tasks, look up contacts, get driving directions, and more, says Neutrino. The program builds a knowledge base of the users work that can be used for later searches, even if the user only remembers bits and pieces of what he or she wants to retrieve.

“The human mind remembers information by relating it to other bits and pieces of information,” explains Anup Suresh, vice president of technology for Neutrino. “Now you can utilize those bits and pieces for search and let the computer intelligently figure out what you want.”

Retail price of the suite, which operates on the Windows platform, is $99.95. Further details are available at www.nt4me.com.

If unwanted advertising and/or surreptitious monitoring are concerns for you, Aladdin Systems Inc. has announced a solution in Internet Cleanup 3.0.

According to Watsonville, Calif.-based Aladdin, the software provides automatic blocking of all pop-up ads, Web bugs and banner ads. It also removes spyware, tracking devices, unwanted cookies and more.

“Privacy is an issue that gets more important every day,” states Pauline Shumake, product manager for Aladdin. “Users want to know what they do and where they go on the Internet is private and that their activities wont be recorded in marketing databases that can be traced back to them.” Internet Cleanup, she adds, removes such tracking devices, along with “Internet clutter that can be traced.”

According to Aladdin, the product schedules automatic cleanups at startup or at other scheduled times. Users can protect cookies for allowed sites and get rid of the ones they dont want. (Cookies are data created by a Web server that may be stored on a users computer, allowing the Web site to keep track of the users Web activities.)

Shumake says user privacy is also protected via deletion of instant message and chat logs, “and you can instantly view and trace Web bugs and other threats to privacy while online.”

Internet Cleanup 3.0 works on Windows 98, ME, NT4, 2000, or XP, says Aladdin. It requires Internet Explorer 5.01 or later, AOL 7.0 or 8.0, or MSN browser.

Manufacturers suggested retail price is $29.99. More information is available at www.aladdinsys.com.

If spam is not a dish you relish, San Francisco-based Cloudmark has introduced Cloudmark Authority, a software program designed to stop unsolicited e-mail.

“Spam is rapidly becoming the silent killer of a business most precious resource–its employees time,” states Cloudmark. “In addition, offensive spam can generate serious corporate liability and headaches for the human resources department.”

According to Cloudmark, Authority “cracks the genetic code of spam” in order to solve this problem. “Spammers mutate message structure to avoid detection,” the company explains. “Just as scientists predict whether someone will have a particular disease by looking for specific gene mutations, Authority predicts whether a message is spam by looking for specific mutations.”

Authority also utilizes information it gets from Cloudmark SpamNet, a collaborative spam fighting service that includes “the largest database of spam in the world,” says Cloudmark.

Cloudmark Authority is available on both Windows and Unix, the company says. Information and a 30-day trial are available at www.cloudmark.com. Pricing information was not provided, but Cloudmark claims that a company with 10,000 employees will save over $2 million a year in lost wages with Authority deployed.

If your agency or office runs on many software programs, managing those programs and their license administration may be easier with Sitekeeper 2.0 from Executive Software, Burbank, Calif.

According to Executive, each software application needs to be installed and managed, as well as upgraded and/or fixed when necessary. “Failure to stay current can leave an organization exposed to gaping holes that hackers are waiting to exploit.”

In addition, each program must be properly licensed, but keeping track of license compliance can be a daunting task, the company says. “If you get it wrong, you face hefty fines, and if thats not bad enough, traditional licensing schemes are being phased out by annual subscription-like software contracts from Microsoft and others,” Executive adds.

Sitekeeper 2.0 offers a Windows XP compatible interface. It includes support for Windows 95b, 98, ME, NT, 2000 and XP, the company notes. It also provides an Inventory Tracker that allows users to see what hardware and software is deployed at a site.

Another feature of the product, License Tracker, shows system administrators what the software license compliance status is, says Executive. Also PushInstaller “completely eliminates the time and cost of manual installation or uninstalls, keeping a sites technology current with fast, two-click control.” This allows administrators to rapidly install or uninstall software, updates, upgrades and patches, the company says.

A 10-license pack of this product sells for $349, according to the companys Web site. Further details are available at www.execsoft.com.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, February 17, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.