Stories by Franklin Tessler

The hidden danger of touchscreens

Spend five minutes on any busy street corner and you'll spot people using tablets and smartphones in dangerous ways, whether it's texting behind the wheel or strolling with their eyes on the screen.

Apple Pro Keyboard

PROS: Gorgeous; same layout as that of the Apple Systems Inc. Extended Keyboard; volume and eject keys.

Solid Update to Research Tool

EndNote users who worried about the fate of their favorite bibliography manager when Niles Software was acquired last year can rest easy. ISI ResearchSoft has released EndNote 4.0 with a host of new features that make for a solid, if pricey, upgrade.

Palm-Compatible PIMs

Consultant 2.5.3 was a reliable PIM whose claim to fame was its synchronization with the Palm Inc. family of handheld organizers. Alas, limited alarms and other flaws detracted from an otherwise solid application. In response to requests for robust multiuser support, Chronos LC has split Consultant into two separate products: an updated version, Personal Organizer 3.0.1; and Group Organizer 3.0.1, a server-based program that lets users share contact and schedule information over a network.

Papyrus 8.0

For a researcher whose livelihood depends on churning out academic publications, a reference manager is a godsend. By automating the most burdensome steps in research writing - tracking references, formatting citations, and compiling bibliographies - reference-management software can cut days off a large project. Papyrus 8.0.5, the latest release of Research Software Design's reference manager, handles the job competently without breaking your budget.

Thinking Home

With all the fuss about smart homes and Internet-savvy refrigerators, you'd think that decades-old home-automation technology would be ready for the scrap heap. But X10, a protocol developed more than 20 years ago by X10 Corp. (, isn't about to run out of steam. The technology uses signals over existing electrical wiring, so it's easy to install without additional construction. When it's in place, you can control almost any electrical device without leaving your chair and repel burglars by giving your house a lived-in look when you're away.

Top Secret OS 9 Tricks

Just as Q never seems to run out of clever gadgets for James Bond, Apple keeps inventing new features for the venerable Mac operating system. OS 9 includes a slew of enhancements that make your Mac more secure, easier to share, and more Internet-savvy.

Wacom Graphire: Tablet/Mouse for Budding Artists

Digital artists know that nothing compares to a graphics tablet for easy editing of drawings and scanned photos. Alas, graphics tablets like Wacom Technology Co.'s Intuos, which starts at $200, are beyond the means of SOHO users on limited budgets. Wacom's $99.95 Graphire, which pairs a capable graphics tablet with an imperfect mouse, is an economical solution.