Walt Mossberg

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Keeping the Family Tree

Q:

I have a MacBook Pro and an old Dell that is dying. I’m very much into genealogy and I’ve used Family Tree Maker for 15 years and love the 2005 version. If I were to install Boot Camp on my Mac would I be able to run the 2005 version?

A:

If a program will run on a Windows PC, it almost certainly will run on a Mac running Boot Camp with Windows installed. Boot Camp essentially turns the Mac into a Windows PC, with no Mac operating system running. Windows takes over the hardware.

The only problem might be if the version of Family Tree Maker you want to use won’t run on Windows 7, because Boot Camp requires a fresh, boxed copy of Windows and it may be difficult for you to find and buy an older version than Windows 7.

Q:

I have several two- to three-year-old laptops that I would like to donate. Is there a quick and easy way to wipe the hard drives clean without having to painstakingly delete/uninstall info/programs?

A:

Yes. It’s generally called a “file wiper” program and it deletes all or some of the files on a PC in a way that makes it impossible for even a typical skilled technician to recover your files. I haven’t reviewed any for years, so I can’t recommend one. But you can find one by searching for “file wipers.”

Q:

In your review last week of the Zoom video conferencing service, you only briefly mentioned Google+ Hangouts, which I find works well. Doesn’t Hangout have some features Zoom lacks and why didn’t you do a detailed comparison?

A:

The column wasn’t meant to be a comparison of multiple video conferencing services. It was a review focused on a new one I found to have excellent quality and to allow more simultaneous participants — 15 — than any other free service I’ve seen, including Hangout, which allows for 10 participants.

I also found it attractive that it is a stand-alone service, not part of a social network or email service, as Hangout is, because there are many people who prefer not to join yet another network.

But I did note that Hangout “works well” and, as you note, Google’s service does have some features Zoom lacks, like access to Google Docs and the ability to broadcast your video chat to nonparticipants.

Write to Walt at walt.mossberg@wsj.com.


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