Saturday, March 31, 2007

Wasting Time Wonderfully Well

ToonDoo

I've been waiting so eagerly for someone to create a comic strip maker for people with absolutely zero drawing ability. Lifehacker has a great new one featured. Here it is! It's called ToonDoo and, as you can see, I've created my first strip. Am I talented or what? Seriously, the value in comic strips is in the dialogue, it seems to me, so hopefully I'll be able to create some witty ones. If you'd like to try your hand at it, visit the site here.

Step Aside Adobe Reader. Foxit is Here.

Depending on the current phase of your computer's life-cycle, you might be interested in an alternative to Adobe's ubiquitous Reader. In the early phase, you are swimming in an ocean of memory, storage and processing power. The applications you have installed seem lightning-fast, going from double-click to open in less time than it takes you to say "pi," assuming you would have any reason to say "pi." Your screen is covered with layer upon layer of open windows, some of which you've forgotten about completely. Life is good.

A couple of years pass, and your machine has lost its verve. It seems to have contracted chronic fatigue. It gets bogged down by any significant load. You have to conserve, you have to find ways to take up less storage on your hard drive. You say to yourself, When am I ever going to use that program? I really don't need it, do I? You are much more judicious about how many programs you have open at any one time. Your processor starts wheezing with any task more demanding than word processing.

If any of these descriptions fit your situation, or even if they don't, it's always a good idea to be efficient. Waste not, want not, and so on. That's why Foxit can be a great alternative to the bigger and more cycle-intensive Adobe Reader for viewing PDF files. You can give it a whirl by clicking on the graphic.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Score a Super-Fantastic Text Editor

Should I have put an ! at the end of that title? I thought it called for one, but I'm leery of sounding like an idiot. Anyway, let's set that aside and talk about text editors. Some of you out there will never need one. Many of you will and do. Text editors are the applications used to edit text, but only a certain type of text: Coding text. Like html, .ini and .log files. Of course simple text editors can also be used for more or less interesting text, but other applications are better suited for those purposes.

My main use for text editors happens to be some fairly simple html coding for my blogs. Even though Windows has its own, Notepad, it's fairly lame, so it behooves you to find one that better meets your needs. For a while now I've been using kewlpAd, just because it's skinnable. But it has very few of the features I need. So I'm movin' on up to the big time. The free editor called Notepad++ is my new app of choice for this particular need.

Its features include:
  • Syntax Highlighting and Syntax Folding
  • WYSIWYG
  • Auto-completion
  • Multi-Document
  • Multi-View
  • Regular Expression Search/Replace supported
  • Full Drag ‘N' Drop supported
  • Dynamic position of Views
  • File Status Auto-detection
  • Zoom in and zoom out
  • Multi-Language environment supported
  • Bookmark
  • Brace and Indent guideline Highlighting
  • Macro recording and playback
Click here to get it!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Brandy (You're a Fine Girl): Boost Your Readership with BrandMyBlog

You may not be old enough to get that reference; that's OK. It's from a 1972 hit song by Looking Glass. And it has nothing whatsoever to do with the subject of this post, except for the word brand, as in brandmyblog.com, which provides a means of boosting the readership of your blogs in a few minutes by adding a small roll on your blogs sidebar. Mine looks like this:



Here's what they do:

"The idea is simple; we provide a free opportunity for you being a blogger to refer your readers to other blogs which publish something related to your own blog. In return, you get more interesting content on your blog, and you get your own posts exposed on thousands of other blogs similar to yours. Our blogroll includes 3 blog-resumes which means that every time a person load a page on your blog, you get your own blog-resume shown at 3 other blogs all around the world."

If you're a blogger looking to boost your readership, give them a gander by clicking on the graphic below. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Better than Ever: Google Updates Free Google Pack

Folks, it's time to check out the new and improved Google Pack. This free software pack (you can choose to download them all, or pick the ones you want) comes with Google Earth, Picasa, Google Photos Screensaver, Firefox with Google Toolbar, Norton Security Scan, Google Desktop, Google Toolbar for IE, Adobe Reader, and Spyware Doctor. You also have the option of adding Google Talk, RealPlayer, Skype, Google Video Player and Gallery HD Images. This really is a great bucket of cool applications. According to Google's official blog:
Google Pack makes it easy to setup and protect your PC, and now we've added two new applications to make your PC even safer: Symantec's Norton Security Scan, which detects and removes viruses, and PC Tools' Spyware Doctor Starter Edition, a top-rated anti-spyware utility. Both are free and include automatic protection updates with no paid subscription required.

We've also substantially updated our screensaver. Now you can turn your computer into a digital picture frame that displays pictures from photo feeds—continuously updated streams of photos from the web. Many of your favorite photo-sharing sites support them already, so it's easy to keep in touch with your friends and family this way.

Click on the graphic below to get your new and improved Google Pack today!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Emoticons that Use (Insert your face here)

If you don't know what emoticons are, you may know them as "smiley faces." They are those little faces we insert into our emails or IMs that help the recipients know how we are feeling. They enable us, for instance, to write as if we are burning with a ferocious wrath (which we are), but soften the flames with a cute smiley. Or whatever expression you want to convey. Emoticons began with simple combinations of keystrokes that stood for an emotion, like :-) for happy, or >:-( for angry, or *-[+}} for existential angst. Pretty soon, technology advanced to the point where we could insert more realistic faces, little round yellow things that looked like the faces of little yellow people.

A new advance in the science of emoticons is upon us, however. U. Pittsburgh computer scientists have developed software that will let you use emoticons based on a picture of your own face. (I know, I know, but at least they're not busy making a doomsday machine.) Just one generic, expressionless photo of your ugly mug can be manipulated to look happy, sad, mad, lustful, bemused, dumbstruck, solicitous, stupefied, whatever! So keep your eyes open and your ears to the ground, 'cause this thing's coming soon.

Vista? We Don Need No Stinkin Vista

For those of us who see no compelling reason to upgrade to Vista, at least until it's time for brand spanking new machine with at least 4 Gigs of memory and graphics power out the wazoo, and are quite happy with XP, thank you very much, there are small programs that allow us to have some of Vista's more attractive eye-candy. For example, there's a little app called Visual Tooltip 2.1. With Visual Tooltip running, you get a nice thumbnail view of your minimized windows when you mouse-over them in the taskbar (the thingie that sits at the bottom of your screen). Here's what it looks like.



Why go through the hassle and cost of a Vista upgrade? If it ain't fixed, don't break it. You can get all the love with little apps like Visual Tooltip! Get it here.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Ladeees and Gentlemen, Choose Your Start Page

Lifehacker's Rick Broida puts together a great article on choosing the best start page for your browser. You know, it's the page that comes up when you first open your browser in the morning (or whenever you open it, it doesn't matter...). You want (if you are a rational person) a page that has everything you want to look at to start your browsing day. News the way you like it, weather, sports, feeds, email, etc., all arranged to suit your tastes. There are basically 5 big dogs in this hunt: Google, Netvibes, Pageflakes, Windows Live and Yahoo. Each allows you to personalize a start page with the elements you want and some nifty gadgets to boot.

Thanks to Rick, we don't have to try them all. We only have to check out his ratings and comments, then choose which one you think will work best for you. As they say on the tube, "Ask your doctor if (insert cool drug name here) is right for you." Rick chose Netvibes as the best. So I'm giving it a try.

Click here for the original article.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Making the Web Your Bitch

(Sensitive readers, please substitute "Making the Web Work for You" for the title of this post.)

I do a lot of research on the web. A lot. Some of what I find, I use. And some of what I use (or plan to use), I want to keep. How to do that? The answer, at least one of the best answers, is Diigo. With Diigo you can bookmark, highlight, annotate, collaborate and more. A scenario, if you will: You're trying to gather some useful information on a health issue. When you do a search on the topic, you run across some pages that have a useful paragraph or two. But how can you keep a record of all these pages, and how do you isolate the specific paragraphs you want, and then how can you send the useful parts to someone else? Diigo does it all. You simply highlight the paragraphs you want, click the Diigo button on your Diigo toolbar, then hover your mouse over the highlighted section. Then you can create a stick note that will come up when you mouse over that section. Say whatever you want about it.

There's so much more you can do. You can create a group of people who are researching a topic together so that you can collaborate. You can easily blog the information you're finding. You can tag your information for easy searching. You can archive it, make it private or share it with the world. The list goes on. Diigo is an excellent tool to have in your toolbox for making the most of what the web has to offer. Get it here!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Hide Me from the Bots!

Ever wonder how your email address got into the hands of spammers? Was it sold by a web site you entrusted it to? Possibly. But there's another way it could have happened. Spammers use email harvesting software called harvesters or harvesting bots to scan web pages, forum postings mailing list archives and the like. When they find them, they harvest them. If you've got a web site or blog with your email address on the page, it will be assimilated. Resistance, as they say, is futile. Or is it? Here's a way to hide your email address from the bots but show it for your friends. It's an email icon generator. It not only creates an icon that the bots can't read (yet), the resulting icon also looks pretty cool. Here's a sample:



This generator will let you make an icon for GMail, Hotmail, MSN, Yahoo!, AOL and many more.

Free & Forever

I've recommended free Internet security software to you before; antivirus here, antispyware there, and so on. Well, here's an entire suite of security products offered by Comodo: Firewall, Anti-Phishing, Antivirus, Antispam, Backup, Password Manager, all great products, all free forever. Can't beat that. They make their money selling stuff to enterprises. The little guy home user gets a pass. Isn't that nice? The products can be downloaded and installed individually, so you can get one or more or all of them. Enjoy them by going here.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Wait is Over!

For Yahoo! Widgets 4 that is. Some very nice new features make this a great update to an already excellent product. Widgets are objects with various types of functionality that sit on your desktop and pull information from the Internet without you having to search with your browser for it. Everything from weather to games, from calenders and to-do lists to sports scores, are available among thousands of widgets, and new ones are being created every day. The new Widget engine adds a nice new dock to help you organize your widgets. Check it out here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Nothing Much to Say? No Problem Mon.

Are you a would-be blogger? You'd blog, except for the fact that you don't want the heavy lifting that goes with blogging...mainly the obligation to post something extraordinarily witty on a daily basis, as well as the imagined or real learning curve associated with designing your blogging web site. Perhaps you've started a personal blog but waved the white flag somewhere down the road for essentially the same reasons.

On the other hand, you might feel as if you're missing out on the opportunity to record your admittedly infrequent but nevertheless important ideas, or share some cool stuff you've found on the web with your friends. Well guess what. You can do those things without...hear me now, I said without the hassles! That's right. It's been made possible by a site called Tumblr.

With a Tumblr tumblelog you can post all different types of media you find on the web, and you can do it in the time it takes you to say...well, anything short. Visit the Tumblr site here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Live TV (and More) on your Google Home Page

Thanks to Lifehacker for these tips: If you aren't using a personalized Google home page, you might orta. Google has a cornucopia of gadgets available that together can make your Google home page the be-all and end-all of web pages. I was just now convinced to make it my default page for my Firefox installation.

The particular tips coming in recently have to do with adding live TV and new, fun themes to the Google page. There are already all kinds of gadgets, like various types of news, weather, date and time of day, Google calendar, to-do lists, etc. In just a few minutes you can make your Google home page a one-stop spot for instant information on everything you care about. Well, almost everything. Let's give them a few more months to make it literally everything.

Click here to go to the live TV page.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Excel-ent Dinners!

I found this little gem at juiceanalytics. If you love Excel and eating like I do, then this Excel workbook is bound to make you happy. Unless you have TV dinners (are they still called that?) every night, or are so well-off that you can afford to eat out all the time, you will face the challenge of trying to figure out what you're going to have for dinner. Most people seem to come to this little sticking point on a weekly basis in order to avoid having to go to the grocery store several times a week. In my family my wife works as a teacher (and you know how inflexible that work schedule is), while I work from my home office. So I'm the one who typically visits the store. So I wouldn't mind some technological help figuring out what to get. Enter Cathy's Recipe Manager! She's made it available to anyone, so download and share it to your heart's content.

It works in a simple 3-step process:

Step 1: Use the handy recipe input sheet to add new items to your list. Tip: Only add ingredients that you don’t normally stock.











Step 2: Select from drop down lists of dinner options–one for each day of the week. The dinner suggestions area at the bottom randomly selects a set of recipes to provide some fresh ideas.















Step 3: Print out your automatically generated shopping list.














The Recipe Manager comes with a few recipes pre-entered, but you can change them and enter your own recipes as much as you want. Bon appetit!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Have You Been Saved Lately?

(This is not a religious post! Do not be afraid!)

I have mentioned this tip before in passing, but since I think you might have missed it, I present it here alone and unfettered.

One of the most basic computing necessities I know of is the imperative to SAVE YOUR WORK AND SAVE IT OFTEN! Sorry for yelling, but I'm passionate about this. People who neglect to save their work and save it often will inevitably encounter an ill-timed computer crash or freeze-up, the result of which will be the irretrievable loss of hours of creative (or not) labor. It's happened to me, and I'll admit, I wanted to crush my machine into powder. I didn't. Instead I faced the disheartening fact that I would have to recreate what I had just spent a goodly amount of time and effort to create the first time.

"But," you say, "saving is such an odious chore!" Only if you do it the hard way. I'm going to reveal to you the easy way that quickly becomes an indelible habit (one of the god ones). What you do is, hold down the Ctrl key while hitting the S key. It's a simple two-finger operation. When you begin a new document, hit Ctrl-S. Give your file a name and a place to live. From then on, after every few minutes of work on the document, do another Ctrl-S. You'll never lose more than a couple of minutes of work if you do this.

Someone will of course point out to me that MS Office applications auto save every 10 minutes. Yes, they do. Except when they don't. And 10 minutes of work can be a lot. And the auto save feature can slow down your work every time it runs. No, it's better to get into the habit of doing it yourself.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Don't Let the Bin Hit You On Your Way Out!

Here's a real time saver tip for Windows users. Avoid the Recycle Bin. Without naming names (that would be unethical!), I will tell you that many of the folks I help with computer issues have Recycle Bins that are overflowing with crap. Why? Because every time they delete something, they unknowingly send it right to the Bin, where it sits, and sits, and sits, as the trash piles up. Now, the deceptive thing about the Bin is, you can't see the mountain of trash. That little bin looks the same whether it's got a couple of small files in it or the equivalent of your town's entire annual refuse production. So you never think about it. But it's wasting space on your hard drive nonetheless. So you really ought to empty the thing once in a while.

But most of the time you're sure you want to get rid of something, and you aren't wanting to stick it where it can be retrieved, i.e. the Recycle Bin. So, how do you skip the RB and throw that garbage straight out of you life forever? Easy. Right click on the file you want to delete. Hold down the Shift key while you click Delete in the menu that pops up. Another pop-up will ask you if you really want to delete that file. Click Delete again and it'll get gone, and the Bin won't be able to hit it on the way out. You're welcome.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Video Calling Par Excellence! (spoken with French accent)

It's Jetsons time again, with a exciting, newly updated video-calling application called SightSpeed 6.0. There are other video-calling applications out there, true, but they're getting better and better, closer to what we all were promised by the tech hype of yesteryear. Remember? The video on SightSpeed is smooth as silk and allows you to make lots of fine adjustments to increase picture quality, for one thing. The setup was a breeze, too. It has echo-cancelling technology if you aren't using a headset. It's got Video Mail and Blog recording, community calling, SightSpeed TV and more. And that's all in the free version.

Click the graphic below to check it out.










Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fahrenheit 451 Can't Stop Me Now!

For my readers who may be (sadly) unfamiliar with Fahrenheit 451, the name refers to the famous novel by Ray Bradbury about a future society where books are outlawed and critical thought suppressed. The title has to do with the temperature at which paper catches fire. OK, so now that we have that out of the way, I'm here to recommend a very cool way to read books online. No paper needed! See?

Lifehacker points us to yBook, a "paperback emulator." It's an open source (i.e. free) download. Here's what its creator says about it:
I wrote this ebook reading software to provide a 'paper book' experience on the computer screen: For a start, you get two pages side-by-side instead of just one page in the middle of the screen. (Although I have just added a single-page mode which should suit tablet PCs in portrait mode) Next, the pages turn when you click them, just like a real book. Finally, you can also select a textured background to make the pages look like real paper. yBook will read html files, text files, rtf files and pdb/prc files (Palm document format).
As I do with anything I recommend to you, I downloaded and installed yBook on my own machine. There's an enormous number of books available for free on the Internet, and yBook makes reading them on your computer as much like reading a paperback as possible. I really think you'll like it. By the way, there are many Internet sites available to find good books to download. I just downloaded Fifteen Thousand Useful Phrases, by Greenville Kleiser, a real classic. I found it at Project Gutenberg.

You can grab your copy of yBook by clicking on the graphic below. Enjoy!







Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Email Addresses: Have it Your Way!

Get an email address that says something about you. easy.la offers free personal, individual and unique email addresses. I set one up in a couple of minutes, barrysbest@myblog.la. I had a ton of choices for my username as well as the domain name. The only thing that's not optional is the .la ending. Here's what you get with the basic, free package:
  • Free email address
  • Powerful WebMail Interface
  • Mailbox upgradable to 2 GB
  • Spam & Virus Protection
  • Contacts & Calendar
  • Webmail, POP3, IMAP
  • email forwarding
  • Mail Monitor Utility
  • Short Message Service
  • WAP/XHTML Access
  • Add-ons ...

Visit their site to search for your new email address. If you like what you find, sign up for free! Click the graphic below to go there.









Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Need Some Time for Your Site?

Bloggers and web masters, here's a nice bit of bling for your site: Add a free ClockLink clock!



Just visit ClockLink, navigate to the clock you like best, and click for the html. Paste the code into your site and you're good to go. The site even has specific instructions for most types of blogs or web sites.

Check them out here!

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Task for Every Taste

Do you like my post titles? You can't tell what the hell I'm posting about, can you? They're like little riddles. This post is about a great little upgrade to XP's task-switcher. Lifehacker points us to TaskSwitchXP, which replaces XP's sad, but useful task-switch utility. I'm still surprised by how few computer users aren't aware of the easiest way to switch between open Windows. I'm referring to the Alt-Tab keyboard shortcut. If you've got more than one app open in Windows, and you want to switch the computer's focus from one window to another, you don't have to use your mouse to go to the taskbar, find the app you want, then click on it to go to that window. All you need do is hold down the alt key with your thumb and hit the tab key with your pinkie. Each time you hit the tab key, you'll be switching windows...when you get to the one you want, just let go.

After a while doing this becomes second nature. Try it. Well, TaskSwitcherXP fancies it up quite a bit, opening up a nice big thumbnail alongside a vertical list of your open apps, where you get some right-click options like Minimize and End Process. Very, very handy.

Click here to check it out.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Searching for the Perfect Search

OK, I just told you about TWERQ search. I've got another excellent way to search, but this one involves a small download. Come on, you aren't afraid of a little bitty download, are you? This one's worth it if you want to do some serious searches on the web or your desktop. This one's got some real muscle. I'm referring to Copernic Desktop Search.

Some Salient Features:

Find any file on your computer
  • Instantly find Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, HTML, Word Perfect, text, ZIP files.
  • Quickly locate emails or attachments from Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora and Mozilla Thunderbird.
  • Search for over 150 other types of files like MP3, JPG, WAV, MPEG.
  • Power your search with specific refining fields or advanced search operators.
Results and beyond
  • Instantly preview filtered matching results.
  • Easily find search keywords: auto-scroll to first occurrence and highlighted keyword.
  • Use dynamic word-find buttons to trace keywords in document previews.
  • Quickly find search keywords: auto-scroll to first occurrence and highlighted keywords.
  • Easily sort and group search results.
  • Act on result: open folders or files, open, reply or forward emails, etc.
Copernic’s usability expertise
  • Search the Web or your computer from the same lightweight, intuitive interface.
  • Use convenient toolbars: deskbar and browser toolbar.
  • Stay informed with RSS feeds delivered straight to your ticker (Internet Explorer browser only).
  • Speed up your access to Web and desktop searching with useful keyboard shortcuts.

Take control of your search experience
  • Choose file and email folders to index.
  • Control your computer resources usage when indexing documents.
  • Specify additional file types to index.
  • Benefit from automatic, unnoticed real-time indexing of new/updated files and emails.
  • Selectively suspend the indexing process when a laptop runs on battery power.
Click on the graphic below to investigate further.








Seek, and Ye Shall Find

Once again I've combed the Internet and found a new product to tell you about. I am so freaking helpful! As you no doubt already know, the web is vast and wonderful and a bit frightening. (Only a few fearless fellows like me are brave enough to venture forth into its very maw, sifting the good from the bad and the merely useless.) We need help if we are to make use of all the web has to offer. We need a way to find useful information hiding in the haystacks. The fact of the matter is that search technologies are at the forefront of the effort to do just that, provide time-saving means to find and save that gold amongst the dross.

Here's just such a technology, cutely called TWERQ. Some of TWERQ's features:
  • The Internet's first and only search tool to feature tabbed results.
  • Use less memory than multiple browser tabs or windows
  • Convenience of one browser tab or window for all searches.
  • Instantly flip through and compare or view multiple results, feeds and images.
  • Reduce the repetition of entering or re-entering search terms.
  • Find information faster by simultaneously searching different terms.
  • Save, Group and Open Searches
  • Shortlist results, stories and images.
  • Personalize settings and searches.
  • Take your settings and searches anywhere.
Click on the graphic below to check it out.






Saturday, March 10, 2007

I Like MS Office, But Free is Free

I never get tired of telling my friends about free stuff on the web that replaces products that you have to pay for. This one, OpenOffice, replaces a fairly expensive suite of applications that you have certainly heard of, Microsoft Office. I like MS Office. I'm not a Microsoft basher. I think their products work darn well. On the other hand, why spend hundreds of denari when you can do what you need to do with something that costs NOTHING?

The old adage that you get what you pay for doesn't apply here, I assure you. In this case you get much more than you pay for, a really great product. OpenOffice has the equivalent to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and more. And, the documents you create with OpenOffice are compatible with MS Office's apps! How cool is that? You can get it by clicking on the graphic below.

 Use OpenOffice.org

Friday, March 09, 2007

Books: Why Buy When Borrowing is So Much Funner?

Many years ago, I used to buy books. Now, I am a reading animal. I read books like my life depended on it. So you can imagine what my book-buying budget must have looked like. Oh, I tried to be somewhat frugal by selling the ones I'd read to used-books stores, but it still cost quite a bit to keep up my reading habits. And if I didn't like a book I'd gone and spent money on, well that hurt like the dickens. All that changed when I discovered that I could get any book I wanted from my local library, and I could get them without searching for them and being disappointed when the one I wanted was checked out. How do I do it?

First I check with Barnes & Noble's Books Coming Soon web site to get advance notice about books from my favorite authors. A few of my faves don't always get included in their list, so I do some searches for those in particular every so often.

Next, I go to my local library's web site and find the books I want. Then I place a hold on them so that I'll be notified by email when my books are ready for me to pick up.

Finally, I stop by the library and pick up my book. What could be simpler?

Sometimes I'll browse the recently published section to see if I can find a new author that I like. I'll grab 10 or so likely looking tomes. I might end up liking one or two, and then I have another favorite author to scan for.

I'm not the type of person who will read a novel more than once, so why should I own it? My property taxes are already paying for the library, so why not take advantage of it?

Have fun!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Social Networking: The Next Level

I just spent a fun 30 minutes setting up my BlueOrganizer. What's that? you say. I'll let the creators tell you themselves:
BlueOrganizer is the new smart-browsing tool for Firefox and Flock. It unleashes the information hidden in the pages of your favorite web sites, and allows you to quickly do what you want to do: find, compare, upload, download, post, rent, reserve, rank, keep track, subscribe, share, and more... The Web is even more connected with BlueOrganizer!

Browse Smarter! BlueOrganizer is context sensitive and instantly connects your favorite web sites to each other. With BlueOrganizer, related information for your movies, restaurants, travel destinations, music, books, and more is just one click away.

Capture Your Experiences! BlueMark the things you find interesting or turn on Auto BlueMark and let the BlueOrganizer do it automagically for you.

Share Anywhere! Publish your BlueMarks on your blog and your FaceBook or MySpace, and share your picks with friends and family via RSS.
Wait, there's more!
BlueOrganizer works to help you simplify and organize your life online. It understands that you and your friends are dealing with everyday objects, like movies, books, restaurants, wines and cars. BlueOrganizer connects those objects with the tasks you want to get done online by instantly connecting your favorite Web sites to each other. Do stuff like this:

* Looking up movies on Amazon? Rent one of them on Netflix instantly.
* Reading an article on iPods? Compare prices on PriceGrabber with one click!
* Create a Jack Johnson station on Pandora.
* Reserve a restaurant on OpenTable right from the restaurant review page.
* Look up a map on google without typing a thing!
* Find out what bloggers are saying about the latest New York Times bestseller.

BlueOrganizer also understands that your information is currently scattered across the Internet. To better use that data, BlueOrganizer helps to easily consolidate and cross-pollinate your information throughout different blogs, web sites and web services.

With BlueOrganizer your information is no longer isolated. Instead it is working for you all the time, helping you find new relevant information faster.
You can see a BlueBadge I created that shows some of my favorite books on my sidebar. I like this tool a lot. It might just be a keeper. Get it here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

To Defrag or Not to Defrag?

With computers, there are often two opposing schools of thought. You have the shut-downers and leave-runningers. (Shut it down: Save electricity, be more carbon neutral, less vulnerable to hackers, less wear and tear. Leave it running: Saves time, less wear and tear due to startups, allows utilities to run when machine is not in use.) Then you have the defraggers and the leave-it-alone-that's-a-waste-of-timers. Some techs say that hard drives run so fast today that fragmented files don't make any appreciable difference in file-fetching times. But then others say that a severely fragmented drive can indeed slow things down. Who's right? I have no idea. So I'm going to test it out in an entirely unscientific, subjective way. I've dowloaded and run a trial version of Vopt 8.3 for Windows, and over the next few hours I'll see if I notice any improvement in my PCs performance. Hey, things seem to be running faster! Try it for yourself here.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ky Vatta Kicks Pirate Butt: Command Decision

I've posted before about Elizabeth Moon's fantastic sci-fi series featuring Kylara Vatta as the commander of a small but growing space force dedicated to the defeat of the pirates who mudered her family and all but destroyed the family's merchant empire.

I've just finished Moon's latest in the series: Command Decision. All I can say is, Bravo. I'm telling you, these novels could easily be used as texts for training people in the art of leadership. If you haven't read any of her books, Elizabeth Moon will become one of your favorite authors if you just try one of her incredible novels. Just click on the graphic below to get your copy.



Primo Portable!

The are very few file types as pervasive or popular as the PDF format. PDF stands for Portable Document Format and was created by Adobe Systems in 1993. With PDF, any type of document format can be converted to PDF and shared with others, whether or not they have a copy of the original application that the document was created in. All they need is a free copy of Adobe Reader. However, while the Reader is free, the Adobe application that creates PDF files is not. This used to be a problem for anyone who wanted to create PDFs but didn't want to pay for the full Adobe Acrobat product.

Well here's a tip: You don't need Adobe's product to create PDFs. There are free applications that will do the job. One such app is called Primo PDF. Once you download and install it, you can create PDF files from any open document simply by going to your Print menu item. When your print dialog opens, select Primo PDF as your printer and off you go. The Primo PDF application can be found here.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Hey Fella, Can You Spare an Hour?

Thank you congress! As if we didn't have enough confusion in our lives, you had to go and create just a bit more, didn't you? Hey, Daylight Saving Time was doing fine. Why'ja haf'ta go mess with it? Huh? I hasn't been that long since I got the thing figured out, with the first Sunday in April and the last one in October. Now it's the, what, second Sunday in March and the first one in November? That's going to to be a bitch to remember.

And hey, that's not the only part that'll be confusing. Your computer and your PDA may have a bit of difficulty making the switch too. Unless to download and run the right patches before the 11th. What happens if you don't? Then your computer and PDA won't know what the time is for 3 weeks! Say it ain't so!

At least they don't expect the world to end. That means it just might.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Dissecting Edwards

What do I have against John Edwards? Why do I keep posting about his candidacy, and why are all of these posts of the negative variety? Please re-read the title of this post. We are here to dissect John Edwards, not me. All I can say about my posts is that I don't cotton to him. I'm not sure why. But what's interesting to me is that 45% of the rest of America doesn't cotton to him either. Let's examine the possible reasons for that little statistic. (If you're wondering where I got that info, I heard it from Brit Hume on Fox News Sunday, not 10 minutes ago. So it's true.)

Why does Johnny-boy have higher negs than Hillary? Forty-five percent of the electorate say they'd never vote for him. Por que? I offer my own reasons:
  • He is dishonest. Although I can't recall specifics, I do remember getting that impression when he was Al's running mate. When a candidate proclaims things that you know he knows are false, and you sense that he's saying them because he thinks that they are the things people want to hear, you come to the conclusion that he's a lying SOB.
  • His hair is too perfect. No need to elaborate on this one.
  • His smarmy accent adds to the already strong odor of hucksterism (huckster - a seller of shoddy goods).

That's all I can come up with in terms of a rationale for my dislike. The fact is, my reaction to him is gut-level, visceral, difficult to define. I am very interested to know how you feel.