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While the Internet has forever changed our lives, it has also opened our computers and networks to possible attacks either through hackers, virus, or other malicious online threats. One company that has consistently provided the pathways and bridges that allows the Internet to work is Cisco. While Cisco has expanded it’s product line to include just about anything that has to do with networks and the Internet, one product in particular is aimed at protecting computers whether it’s a campus lab, dorm network or whole campus. The Cisco PIX Firewall is an exceptional firewall consistent with Cisco’s reputation of rock hard reliability. We tested a rack mountable Cisco Pix 515E, but Cisco has firewalls ranging from the Pix 501 ($595), for personal telecommuters small office all the way on up to the Pix 535 which is suitable for campus protection ($29,995). If you’re looking for a serious firewall, we would highly recommend the Cisco Pix firewall solution which is both a hardware and software solution as opposed to other software solutions which require configuring a PC and software.



Surfing the web would be more like playing with a slide rule without the benefit of DNS. DNS stands for Domain Name Service which translates the numeric IP addresses of the Internet into names that are easy to remember and type (ie. a website address such as www.colleges.com). If you are planning on managing your own domain name then you’ll want an easy but powerful DNS server. We have experience using Men and Mice’s QDNS server since 1995 and highly recommend it. QDNS also now includes an IP management module and runs on Mac OSX, Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris.



Campus environments often include connecting to many databases ranging from Oracle, SQL Server, Sybase, and Filemaker just to name a few. ODBC is an open standard originally developed by Microsoft to connect to databases and stands for Open Database Connectivity. DataDirect in particular produces high performance ODBC drivers that allows connectivity from all applications to any major database across all major platforms. This eliminates the need for client specific software for each and every database you might want to connect to and with their proprietary ‘wire protocol’ actually outperforms even native database drivers. For example, you could use a Macintosh running FileMakerPro to access Oracle running on Solaris. The combinations are endless and the freedom that the DataDirect drivers enable is a breath of fresh air. For PC:www.datadirect.com For Mac: www.datavations.com


Looking for an excellent laptop for college? Then go no further than Alienware’s Area 51M Sentia. Alienware which is known for their high performance gaming computers has blended the best of all worlds to create a perfect student laptop. The fundamental approach was taken that students really need a wireless laptop with battery power to last. To ensure both core requirements were exceeded, Alienware built the Sentia with Intel’s new Centrino combination of processor and wireless chipset and built in a three hour battery life. Then to ensure further staying power it built the laptop with a 2nd battery option to allow for up to six hours of life! Mobile theatre features include a brilliant 14.1" SXGA monitor with up to 1400 x 1050 resolution and a DVD-ROM. We watched many a movie on this creature and were very pleased. Depending on configurations, you can choose a 40-80GB hard drive and up to 2 GB of RAM. Last but now least the Sentia is not only lite and thin but also good looking. You’ll be the envy of those around you as your Alien eyes on your laptop shine brilliantly, a feature that is programmable. It’s a perfectly well balanced laptop and we would highly recommend it to any earthling. www.alienware.com


Downloading music has been an epidemic for the music industry, but now legal solutions are here and surprisingly they’re actually cool. Apple’s iTunes answers the age old gripe about buying an ‘album’ for only one song. Now you can buy that song for 99 cents on Apple’s website and download it to the most incredible mp3 player to ever hit the market. Music fans have purchased and downloaded more than 10 million songs from the iTunes Music Store since its launch just over four months ago, averaging over 500,000 songs per week. The 10 millionth song, "Complicated" by Avril Lavigne, was purchased and downloaded at 11:34 p.m.PDT Sep 3. The Apple iPod is the best selling mp3 player for a reason, it rocks. This little micro creature which weighs in at less than two cd’s can hold up to 10,000 songs. It’s no wonder Apple has sold more than 1,000,000 units and yes, it works with Windows too.


Now that our computers are always connected to the Internet, don’t forget to protect you computer. Symantec had several must have products. The Internet Security product has Norton Personal Firewall, Norton Anti-Virus and Norton Privacy Control. With the Anti-Virus feature, email and any mounted CD-ROM's or other volumes are automatically scanned for viruses. The Internet Security also includes an enhanced ad-blocking feature. Also with the Mac version you get iClean from Aladdin Systems, for quick removal of cookies, cache and history files to protect your privacy. Whether you have a Mac or a PC connected to the Internet, you need Norton Internet Security. www.symantec.com