Although cheap USB flash memory sticks have effectively taken over from the once essential Zip (and Jaz) drives, there are still a lot of them about. Apparently Iomega, which makes most of them, will replace a Zip drive if it exhibits the Click-of-Death effect and then goes toes up. At least I think it will. The Click of Death is a head-positioning problem which can permanently damage your Zip and Jaz discs. So you need a programme to warn you this is about to happen. Enter the free Trouble In Paradise, aka TIP, which you can download from Gibson Research at http: //grc. com/freepopular. htm.
There are other free compact utilities to be found here, plus the excellent $89 (£57) hard-drive monitor and defect detection programme, Spinrite. I would have tried out TIP for you but I discovered that I had retired all my Zip drives in favour of those convenient little plastic things you shove in the USB port.
In an effort to get everybody to pay lots of dosh to move on (not necessarily up) to Windows XP, Microsoft has closed down support for Windows 98 and NT4.
An inveterate user of (well, mostly) Windows 98 Second Edition, this column remains unperturbed as I've never had direct recourse to Microsoft support in the first place. However, it seems the Microsoft Knowledgebase still reports on pre-Windows XP issues. It keeps changing its URL, so do a Google search for it. Interestingly, the street prices of Windows 98 and Windows XP are still almost identical, suggesting there is still hard demand for the older and less dumbed-down version.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is said to be in the process of seamlessly integrating Internet Explorer - that blowsy old tart of a programme we all use to browse the web - into the next version of Windows.
This means we will all have to buy the new version of the operating system to get the updated browser. Ain't monopolies grand? It almost makes you yearn for alternative browser Mozilla and alternative operating system Linux.
But not yet.