Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Open Office

Link: OpenOffice.Org

We all had that friend. That guy who never had Microsoft Office. That guy was trying to give you documents that were in Microsoft Works format. As a side, how did Microsoft make their budget word processor completely incompatible with just about any other word processor on the planet, including WORD?

Anyhow. You would send this guy a document, and he'd ask for it again in Rich Text.

Well, your troubles are over. Open Office is the free MS alternative. It not only handles word processing but spreadsheets, presentations, databases, drawing and more.

And other free office programs do that - but this one is COMPATIBLE with EVERYTHING. Including Microsoft Office's Excel, Word, Powerpoint--- and it's FREE.

Oh and it's got a bunch of features that MS Office DOESN'T have! Like the ability to turn ANY document into a PDF. Like the ability to turn a presentation slideshow into a flash animation.

And the ability to not charge you anything to own it. To be honest, other than companies, I don't know anyone who has actually paid the $400 US for MS office.... but embrace legality with OpenOffice - it's available for Windows, Linux and Mac! Go Nuts, for free.

Friday, September 15, 2006

How to Kill the Dog

XP brought us a lot of great advancements - but it also brought a few annoyances. None so annoying than the new File Search and it's mascot, the cute sniffy Dog. It's time to kill the dog.

It's not JUST the dog. The classic search box gets RIGHT to the point. The Dog asks all kinds of irrelevant questions - i just want to search for my file!!! Maybe i want to list the largest files on the disk! Whatever I want to do, the Dog is just running interferance and must go.

To do this, you need a program called TWEAKUI. TweakUI lets you not only get rid of the dog, but a lot of other useful stuff to, like automatically log in without having to enter a password.

TweakUI is available for download on the POWERTOYS page at Microsoft.

To Get rid of the dog, download and open TWEAKUI, click on EXPLORER (the word, not the + sign) scroll to the bottom and click USE CLASSIC SEARCH IN EXPLORER.

The POWERTOYS page also has a lot of other cool stuff - some I can't seem to get going, but others are really useful - the most useful other than TWEAK UI would have to be IMAGE RESIZER - it takes a photo and resizes and optimises it, significantly reducing the size - all by right-clicking on the file.. You can select many files at once.

If you are a fan of DOS, you know it's frustrating to navigate through folders with long names, particularly with spaces in them. The COMMANDHERE powertoy lets you open a DOS window in any folder from the windows folder.

Ahhhh, that's better.

Go on and play with the other POWERTOYS from Microsoft and see what else you find!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Backing up with SyncBack and Friends!

I want you to picture this: you go to your PC and find that your hard drive won't boot. In fact, it's damaged beyond repair. Despite any tricks you try on it, there's no getting at that data.

Your mind races - when was the last time i backed up my documents? How bad will my wife kill me when she realized i destroyed pictures of our last anniversary? Of the firstborn son's first 2 years? All that music I have?

Many of us don't really think about backups - but there's no excuse these days!! Let's talk about it!

SyncBack Freeware Edition
Link : Syncback 2BrightSparks Freeware Download Site (Freeware version direct download)

If you have more than one hard drive, then hesitate no longer and get this excellent free bit of software - SyncBack. Just like professional backup software, you can program intricate schedules to backup various areas of your hard drive nightly or on other schedules. You can set up file syncronisation, or straight backup, or only to only backup modified files - it's so straightforward, you can put together a reasonable backup regime in about 5 minutes.

And did I mention it's complete freeware? Fantastic.

Backing Up Your Other Stuff:

It's possible you don't have a second hard drive in your system, and you've simply got to burn stuff off to a DVD or, heaven forbid, a CD.

Backing up your Photos: You should definately get Picasa2 - along with being a fantastic photo manager, emailer, and quick fix editor, it's also a great backup tool. You creat Backup Profiles, and it will remember what you've offloaded to CD/DVD and what you haven't- so you can keep returning to that profile and only backing up stuff you haven't already. Picasa2 is available for free direct download, but it's also part of the unstoppable Google Pack/Google Updater - which is a better way to own and maintain it. See our previous posting on the Google Pack.

Backing up Music: There's other ways to do it, but as we noted in our Fun With iTunes posting - iTunes will back up your music - figuring out how many discs to burn to and then burning them off one by one. See the posting for details!