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Pimp Your Work

October 19th, 2007

Pimping Bookmarks:

It’s Friday and you don’t know what that means - it’s Pimping Bookmarks day!  It’s that special day of the week where I compile some great links to articles, tools, and other digital trinkets that will definitely pimp your work. Of course, readers are encouraged to contribute links that I’ll probably miss.  You can submit these links throughout the span of the week and send them to my email (celineroque AT b5media DOT com).

So here’s this week’s list:

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By Celine -- 0 comments

April 26th, 2007

Diana always seems to have the tips you need-read them!

 Diana Huggins who contributes to Lockgnome’s Windows Fanatics blog always seems to have those tips and how tos that people need.  Whether it’s watermarks in Word or new lines in Excel cells, Diana has posted them.

Sure, you might think they are simple, if you’ve already spent time trying to figure out how to do it through trial and error and Office help, but lots of people haven’t.

Instead of just posting every day her latest tip, just save us both some time and subscribe to the blog and get them via RSS.


By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

March 18th, 2007

Ultimate Boot CD could save your tush in a pinch

I seem to be tech guy du jour lately.  I’ve been working on machines left, right, centre, up and down.  If it isn’t the computer from the garage it’s a friend’s.  Often what I need is a rescue CD to help things along.  This boot CD has a lot of power tools for the uber-geek

You need the Ultimate Boot CD if you want to:

  • Run floppy-based diagnostic tools from CDROM drives. More and more PCs are shipped without floppy drives these days, and it is such a royal pain when you need to run diagnostic tools on them.
  • Free yourself from the slow loading speed of the floppy drive. Even if you do have a floppy drive, it is still much much faster to run your diagnostic tools from the CDROM drive, rather than wait for the tool to load from the floppy drive.
  • Consolidate as many diagnostic tools as possible into one bootable CD. Wouldn’t you like to avoid digging into the dusty box to look for the right floppy disk, but simply run them all from a single CD? Then the Ultimate Boot CD is for you!
  • New! Run Ultimate Boot CD from your USB memory stick. A script on the CD prepares your USB memory stick so that it can be used on newer machines that supports booting from USB devices. You can access the same tools as you would from the CD version.

When you boot up from the CD, a text-based menu will be displayed, and you will be able to select the tool you want to run. The selected tool actually boots off a virtual floppy disk created in memory.
Source: Ultimate Boot CD - Overview

I tried this CD yesterday and figured out that I really need to make sure I read the directions for each of the tools.  These aren’t the nice, user-friendly tools like Norton and such.  These are power tools (read no wizards or step-by-step things).  I have to say, however, one of my standard things to do to help a Windows machine along is to boot into Safe Mode (press F8 at boot) and run chkdsk /f from the command prompt.  Of course, when you’re in Windows it can’t fix anything, but it will ask you if you want to run the check and fix at the next reboot (yes is the correct answer here).  Often, that’s just the thing you need to get stuff working again.


By Tris Hussey -- 1 comment

March 14th, 2007

Microsoft Time Zone answers the "what time is it where you are" question

PYW friend Amit blogged a free tool from Microsoft that lets you quickly see what time it is in five different time zones.  Since the U.S. & Canada have thrown the world a curve ball by starting daylight savings time this past Sunday, remember what time it is in the rest of the world is just a bit more complicated.

This free tool called Microsoft Time Zone runs as a tiny icon in your system tray and allows you to watch the current date and time of upto 5 cities around the world simultaneously.
Source: A World Time Clock for your System Tray from Microsoft at Digital Inspiration

If you’re using Vista you can display two additional timezones to your own without any extras.  Why, pray tell, more folks haven’t pointed this out is beyond me, but it’s so, so easy.

  1. Right-click on the status bar and select Adjust Date/Time
  2. Click the Additional Clocks tab
  3. Click the tick boxes for “Show this clock”, select timezone, and name it.
  4. Click okay

Now when you mouse over the time your time, the date, and these additional clocks will appear.  Pretty spiffy, eh?


By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

March 11th, 2007

Open the hood and tweak Vista and XP

Yeah I’m one of those folks who likes to tweak my machine a bit.  Nothing really serious, just tips here and there to make the whole computing experience a bit better.  Everton Blair seems like the same kind of guy.

One of my goals over the weekend was to get under the bonnet of Vista and do some tweaking and to try and fix some bugs. The most annoying bugs that I have currently are that my TV Card still isn’t working as Hauppauge still haven’t released working drivers and my network card randomly stops working every now and then, and I have to reboot.
Source: Windows Vista Tweaks And Tips | Connected Internet

Me, my big thing is to try to squeeze every once of speed out of my Net connection.  Always looking for tweaks to make TCP/IP just a bit faster and efficient.  Vista, I’ve noticed, is a heck of a lot better in this respect than XP.  In fact it was one of the first things I noticed about Vista.

Anyway via Everton’s blog I found some nice documents for tweaking XP and Vista.  I skimmed through the Vista guide for a bit.  Picked up a few things.  I’m not one to monkey with my registry unless required, but there are some really simple things you can do.  Turning off un-needed Windows services is a huge one.  I’ve got a “real” laptop, not a tablet, so why should I have all the pen-based and tablet stuff loaded?  Yeah, exactly.

One thing I will say, read the docs carefully and if you’re not sure about a tweak, don’t.  If you’d like my opinion, for what it’s worth, feel free to ask.

Good reading in any case.


By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

March 6th, 2007

Psst, a new version of ClearContext is available and a Vista gadget too

It does pay to read your feeds!  Today Brad has this great announcement:

Regular readers of the weblog may have noticed that posting has been light the last couple of months.  Work on our v3.1 release has kept us busy.  I’m pleased to finally come up for air and offer all of you early access to our v3.1 release (download here).  We’ve implemented several new features along with numerous small fixes and preliminary support for our upcoming Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget (more on that in a bit…).  New features in v3.1 include:
Source: ClearContext Corporate Weblog - IMS v3.1 Early Access Release and Vista Gadget Beta Testers Wanted

Of course I downloaded and installed right away. Went fine, as expected.  Frankly I haven’t played with any of the new features, but I have played with the new Vista sidebar gadget.  Now, that’s cool!

Right now it’s simple.  It just shows the unread items in your inbox.  Boring?  Nope.  In the options, besides the nice silver colour, is a filtering selection.  I have mine set to “Normal”, which means if the e-mail isn’t ranked Normal or higher, it doesn’t show up.

In practical terms this means that if I hear e-mail come in, and it doesn’t show up there, it probably isn’t worth my attention at the moment.

See, this is a key thing when you get lots of e-mail.  Sure it goes off and you know it’s there, but you have to check to see if it’s important or not.  Yes, if it isn’t important you can ignore it, but see I like having zero unread items in my inbox.  It might not be cleaned out often, but it doesn’t have unread items.

Everything that comes in gets read.  Often deleted right away, but always read.  Now, I know when something important has come in, so I can just wait until I have a moment to check.

Nice, nice touch.


By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

February 26th, 2007

Wow you can rename multiple files in Windows! And it’s easy

You know somethings are so easy you just smack your head and say “Why didn’t I try that!”.  This tip for renaming files (it is shown in XP, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it might work in Vista too) is just so simple:

  • Highlight the files you want to rename. (Use Ctrl or Shift to highlight multiple files at once)
  • Right-Click the first file in the series, click Rename.
  • Only the file you’ve right clicked will be highlighted. That’s OK. Change the file name, the extension will be kept.
  • Hit the enter key to commit your change. Your files will be named “file (1).jpg”, “file (2).jpg”, etc..
    Source: Rename multiple files at once in Windows XP - Download Squad
  • Well, that was easy.

    By Tris Hussey -- 3 comments

    February 26th, 2007

    Advanced WindowsCare Professional for Free Today Only

    As you know I’ve been battling with fixing a machine for Lorraine’s bosses since Friday.  Sunday I thought it was licked and well I was wrong.  Still getting Blue Screen of Death, still unstable (rebooting and shutting down randomly).  I was getting really worried.  If I couldn’t keep the machine stable, then I couldn’t even back up critical files so I could wipe it and start over.

    I had to stay up late last night so Jim and I could finish a proposal due this morning, so checking my feeds on a break I caught today’s giveaway of the day from Giveaway of the Day: Advanced WindowsCare Professional

    Unleash the full power of your PC now. Advanced WindowsCare Professional provides an Always-On and Automated, All-In-One PC Care Service with anti-spyware, privacy protection, performance tune-ups, and system cleaning features that find errors in your Windows OS that other utilities miss.

    With our “Install It and Forget It” feature that works automatically and quietly in the background, you will keep your computer safe, error-free, and running at top speed. We highly recommended this program for your home and/or small business.
    Source: Giveaway of the Day » Advanced WindowsCare Professional

    Hmm, I thought to myself.  System tweaking.  Hmm, works with Vista.  Okay, let’s give it a shot.  First loaded it on my laptop.  Ran the checks, fixed some minor issues, tweaked some stuff.  Okay.  Next onto the old Dell machine that the kids use.  Yep, good again.  This morning with both machines still good I decided to take a chance running it on the PITA machine.  Well, boy did it work.  The machine is stable enough that I think I can take it back this afternoon.  Okay I couldn’t get AVG to work anymore and had to manually ditch it and use Avast instead (Lorraine did suggest maybe a virus, unlikely, but I checked anyway).

    I’m not usually one to get these free apps.  One problem is that if you have to re-install it, you can’t.  The 24-hr activation window is gone so your out of luck.  In this case, it was worth it.  Oh so worth it.

    I recommend giving it a try.

    By Tris Hussey -- 1 comment

    February 26th, 2007

    Speed up you work with keyboard shortcuts

    I’ve always used lots of keyboard shortcuts and I’m kinda narked when one doesn’t exist or is inconvenient (the Control-F4 for closing windows is one that I think is a pain).  I’m surprised how often people don’t use shortcuts in their day to day work.  It really speeds up tasks (like writing) if you just hit cntrl-i for italics, cntrl-b for bold, etc.  And of course, cntrl-s for save.

    Steven Mack of TiVo has launched a new blog called Windows Keyboard Shortcu of the Day, which should get you on your way to useing the mouse less and keyboard more (which is better for your hands, etc).

    Hat tip to DownloadSquad for this one.

    By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

    February 25th, 2007

    Arrggghhhh!!! Living in Tech Support Purgatory or Why you need to be nice to you geek

    Okay the saga of Lorraine’s boss’ computer continues.  Thought I had it set.  Nope, couldn’t get the spiffy LCD monitor to work (worked great on my machine, including doing the extended desktop thing, which is tre cool), but I thought I had it licked.  Yeah, right.  Yep Blue Screen of Death coming back.  Random shutoffs and reboots still there.  Sigh.  Most of you would say, “Just wipe the bugger and start fresh.”, yeah well that isn’t always a good option.  They’ve got accounting software on there, who knows when the last time they backed up was, you get the idea.

    There is hope and it is the semi-secret non-destructive reinstall of XP option.  I actually tried this yesterday, but it didn’t look like it would work.  In hindsight, I think I needed an XP SP1 CD not SP2 to make it work.  Since I finally got SP2 on the bugger yesterday, my handy SP2 CD is doing its job, yeah after two tries.

    This is one sick machine.  From this experience I have another tip, a very important tip: never, ever, ever throw away the original CDs that come with your machine.  Why?  Because if you need to start fresh those are your salvation.  That’s your copy of Windows and even other drivers you need.  For example both my HP and Dell machines need an additional driver install CD to make it play nice again after a clean install.  No CD, buddy you’re downloading.  A lot.  No Windows CD?  You’re going to be hoping your geek or a friend has a CD you can borrow to use.

    Why am I saying this?  Well, you probably guessed, I called this morning to find the original CDs for this poor machine.  “Oh we threw them away I think.”  Yeah, great.

    I’m on somethng like hour 8 with this bugger.  No install CDs means I’m going to be hunting for drivers once I get this fresh copy of XP updated.

    Related to this is that I had to reinstall Vista last night.  No big problem, I just ran into the problem of the Vista partion running out of space.  Yes, I had plenty of space on the XP side, but really that was going to wind up being a pain.  So, a quick boot from my Vista DVD, reparition, reformat, install, ta da!  Took me maybe an hour.  Carbonite is updating my files for me as I write this.  Had to bring Outlook back from a backup I made just before I did the reinstall, no biggie.

    See the difference?  I have files backed up.  I have CDs handy with drivers (okay I had to re-download the flash card reader drivers).  I could back up important files.  Easy.  Now I’m a one OS machine again.  Nice.

    Oh, one more thing to add to my fun.  Lorraine brought her old machine home from her sister’s place.  Yep, another machine to connect to the network, copy files to from the other machine, update with patches, etc.

    Man, what a weekend!

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    By Tris Hussey -- 2 comments

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