Showing posts from March, 2008

LaptopLock and Other Laptop Anti-Theft Tools

Lock That Stolen Laptop (Various Ways) There is an epidemic of stolen laptops across college campuses around the world. In fact, laptops are one of the most widespread stolen items in any city. This does not come as any surprise, of course. Especially when you consider what little precautions most people take to protect their cherished portable devices. Just imagine the amount of private and important data that each person has on his/her little notebook. College term papers, homework, class projects, Outlook E-mail, spreadsheets, not to mention a huge collection of MP3 music, software and photos, Internet favorites (bookmarks). Maybe even backups of full-length DVD movies. You get the point. A stolen laptop offers information that you would never share online. With a little extra precaution, you can protect your files even after a theft. LaptopLock is a free program that can help. LaptopLock can encrypt or permanently delete files on your stolen laptop. It waits silently for your remo

An Update on USB Flash Drive Features

The Best Features of the Newest USB Thumb/Flash/Pen/Key Drives Regardless of what you call them, today's USB thumb drives (aka: Flash drives, aka: Pen Drives, aka: Key drives) are all USB 2.0–ready and boast capacities as high as 32GB—with high prices to match. The sweet spot is 4GB. There you'll find reasonably priced USB flash drives with worthwhile extras and all the space you will need (at least for now). One of the two best uses of thumb drives today is for portable applications—software you can run from the drive without installing it to Windows. With portable apps, you can slip the equivalent of your entire PC into your pocket using any USB thumb drive, as long as you can find an actual PC to plug into. They're a great way to maintain privacy and sometimes even circumvent the rules. For example, your IT person might deny use of certain browsers or e-mail clients on a computer, but you can run them from the thumb drive (which stores the cookies and history for your po

Image : Legal Online Video Streaming This month, NBC Universal and Fox have released , their own television and movie-streaming Web site. The site lets you watch complete episodes of TV shows (both current, like 30 Rock , The Simpsons and House and classic shows like The Bob Newhart Show and Welcome Back Kotter) , and full-length Universal and Fox movies (like The Usual Suspects, Ice Age, Master and Commander and The Girl Next Door) . Shorter clips are also available for many popular shows and movies. While offers full seasons of many classic television shows like Ironside , it only has the newest episodes for current shows (such as the first 8 episodes from The Office season 4). As pointed out in Patrick Crispen's blog , it is important to note that these shows and movies are not bootlegged. is owned by NBC Universal and Fox, and these companies placed their copyright-protected content on this site in hopes that it would be watched for free

Tips, Tricks & Tweaks

The Best Sites for Windows Tips, Tricks and Tweaks Lately, I have been visiting some of the better Windows "tweak sites" looking for answers to the various problems I encounter in customer computers. Miles Comer's Tweak Site: Tiny Empire is one such site. Miles is a tech who does IT support for one of Cingular's offices. This got me to thinking about other tweak sites that I use, so I did some further research. I really love the site called Lifehacker which is basically a tips blog like the one you're reading now, but its topics are very broad and not always specific to just Windows. There are links to Mac OS X and Linux posts, time-saving tricks, How-Tos ( like how to jailbreak your iPhone in 45 seconds ), and even the occasional cleaning tips, such as " How to Remove Pet Hair from Anything ." Lifehacker makes for fascinating daily reading. If you want a great highly-researched list of Windows Tips, Tricks and Tweaks, check out the list compiled by o

Powerbullet Presenter

Powerbullet Presenter Bring flash with your Web sites without getting Flash, or complicated. Creating Flash animations isn’t easy, but a bit of Flash here and there can lift a site from the mundane to something much more interesting. Powerbullet Presenter enables you to build a slick animated Flash presentation by typing, clicking and dragging. Simply drop in sounds and images from other sources and paste in formatted text from other applications. Eventually, you have a Flash animation. Features include gradient fills, page transitions, animation of any elements, including color and transparency changes, navigation buttons, full-screen mode and much more. When you're done, Powerbullet builds the .swf file (or Flash file) along with the HTML Web page for embedding into your code. It even creates an .exe file that can be run independently. All of this is contained in a Powerbullet project folder stored as a sub-folder in "My Documents." It’s all completely free, with no ads

OfficeOne: Addins

Image (Great PowerPoint Addins) It all started when I was creating a PowerPoint slide show and every time I clicked the "New Slide" button, it defaulted to that ever-familiar slide layout that says "Click to add title" and "Click to add subtitle." If you use PowerPoint regularly, you know what I'm talking about. I wanted a way to have it default to the "Blank Presentation" layout. It seemed like a simple thing to ask, but I couldn't figure it out. So I did a Google search and uncovered a site that has many Addins like this for PowerPoint (and a few for Publisher, too). This site includes tips, tricks and examples of the features available in Microsoft Office Products through VBA and Win32 API. At the time of this posting, there are now 14 free addins on this site, including the one I used called " Set Default Slide Layout " for PowerPoint. The site also has some fabulous tips on such topics as Presentation Effec

PhotoStory 3

Photo Story 3 for Windows (not Mac) is made by Microsoft and has been around for a few years, but through its use in various school districts, it has acquired quite a following among computer teachers and anyone looking for a quick, free, good-looking slideshow builder. That's exactly what it is. For those who have still not seen PhotoStory in action, I always get oohs and ahhhs when I show how easy it is to use, and how amazingly quick professional-looking slideshow results can be. Here is a quick tutorial link from Microsoft to guide you through the basic steps. "Experience your photos in amazing new ways" is the slogan used on the Microsoft PhotoStory 3 site, and that is what this program allows you to do. Add the Ken Burns movement effect to each photo, and turn the whole thing into a portable movie file. It downloads quickly, is extremely easy to use, and the whole process involves only 5 steps! Just upload your images, add titles to the slides if you want, arran

Image Computer users need to convert files for various reasons. For example, believe it or not, most brand new PCs only come with a trial version of Microsoft Office. After about 90 days, applications like Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Publisher no longer work, and the files created in these programs will no longer open. This makes PC buyers very upset, and they refuse to shell out the money for a licensed version of Office. So they often resort to using an office suite like Corel WordPerfect Office or Microsoft Works, which may be included for free on their new PC. But what about all of those files they created in the trial version of Microsoft Office? Well, they probably won't open in Works or Word Perfect. And what about those video clips you downloaded, or photos that you edited in Photoshop on your friend's computer? What a pain it would be to find that they don't open no matter what you do. Here is a quick solution. A new resource called Media-Convert . In


ZoomIt is a free utility that is especially great for tech teachers, trainers or anyone who presents to others from a computer desktop. Microsoft makes this tool available from their Windows Sysinternals site. Sysinternals utilities help you manage, troubleshoot and diagnose your Windows systems and applications. ZoomIt was updated this month to version 1.8, and this update to the popular screen magnifier and annotation presentation tool adds support for undo while drawing, and it also allows for resizable text fonts. I don't know how I managed without ZoomIt. Here is a direct link to the ZoomIt site . Click on the thumbnail image at the left for a blow-up of the features and keyboard shortcuts that make them happen. What's nice about ZoomIt is that you don't really have to install it. Just download the Zip file once, then extract it to your desktop, thumb drive or network drive. When you want to present something to a group, just double-click on the folder and launch Zo

Google Page Creator

Image Despite the fact that I am touting as having an even better set of Office tools than Google, there are still many reasons to use the Google Apps. One of these tools is Google Page Creator and I am recommending it as a quick, easy and free method of whipping up a decent Web site and getting it online in seconds. Here is a quick site that I created for a class called "Intro to Google" . I can then put links to Google tutorials or any other site that I wish to include. There are currently 41 different themes (or as Google calls them, "Looks") and 4 different layouts with varying numbers of columns. The newest features include image editing and the ability to create multiple sites. When you first sign in to Google Page Creator, Google automatically gives you a site with the same name as your Gmail address. Now you can create up to five sites with different URLs. For example, you can have in addition to joe.googlepage

I love the Google applications as much as anyone. Google Earth, GMail, Google Docs and Spreadsheets, Google Page Creator. They're all excellent, and this is by no means a comparison...but have you heard of ? This site is an online office package like you wouldn't believe. This blog post sheds more light on what this amazing Web Office package means in the scheme of things, and this blogger's post sums up Zoho's magic in more glowing detail. Just take a look at the Home Page (to the left) and you will see the main features of this suite. Project Management software (Zoho Projects), an online note taker (Zoho Notebook), Web Conference (Zoho Meeting), Wiki, Database, online business solutions, an online organizer, and of course the basic core features that Google has, such as chat, presentation, spreadsheet and word processing. Judge for yourself whether the breadth of these tools stack up or surpass those of Google. As mentioned, it has some features that Googl