From this tech columnist’s mailbag . . .

I’m a regular reader. I had to stop and drop a note. Wish I had the e-mail(s) you sent to me when the iPod first came out. You wrote a Freep column saying it was cool, but doubted if it would be a success due to the price. I sent an e-mail pointing out what I thought was wrong with your opinion, you shot back with “it won’t fly.” My, how times have changed!

Brian Bukantis

I was sure wrong on that one, Brian. The iPod is the single coolest gizmo I have seen in the last year and Apple’s iTunes Music Store has turned me into a downloading music addict.

Now that the iPod also comes in Windows versions, it will only get more popular.

Starting at $299, I still think it’s pricey, though.

You have probably been asked this before but here goes: why can I not find out where cell phone service will drop out and who does the best in these areas? Is it a lack of towers or is a matter of which phone is used? Every company covers southeastern Michigan. But we live and work in only a small part on a daily basis. Is there a way to get this information?

Michael Rontal

It’s been my experience that every part of town and every carrier has various so-called dead spots. I know of no centralized map or guide to what services work best and where.

I’ve seen people send gag pictures that were “Photoshopped,” or altered to include someone else’s picture over a famous person’s body and the like. How do you do that? Maxine

There’s a great Web site called Worth 1000 ( www.worth1000.com) that features instructions on how to do your own image manipulation. They’re also running a
“decorate Martha Stewart’s jail cell” contest that is a real hoot.

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