TIPS AND TRICKS

 
   
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01.  PACK LIKE A PRO.  Peak travel season is approaching so take a look at http://www.bhg.com/bhg/category.jhtml?catref=C29 where Better Homes & Gardens gives advice on lots of things to make your trip preparation more complete and enjoyable.  There's even an interactive packing list to help you decide what to take along.

02.  MY-CAST.  A free service at http://www.my-cast.com provides personal weather forecasts by Web and email (HTML or text) within the 48 contiguous states.  These are created every three hours within a four-mile grid, more specific and frequent than information received from the National Weather Service. You identify those indoor and outdoor activities that are important to you, and the service reports the affect the weather will have on those activities.

03.  SHRED 2. You may know that deleting a file from one's hard drive
doesn't really destroy it.  Only the reference to that file is immediately
deleted and the file itself remains until the contents are overwritten by
other data.  Anyone with a bit of computer savvy may be able to retrieve your sensitive information.  Shred 2, on the other hand, destroys the file's contents before removing the reference to it.  This version at http://www.pcmag.com/article/0,2997,s=1478&a=17456,00.asp supports Windows 95/98/NT4/2000.


04.  READERS WRITE.  A reader suggested an option for weeding out offensive sites.  She goes to MS Internet Explorer settings at Tools|Internet Options, clicks on the Security tab, then in Restricted Sites she enters the URL of those sites she no longer wants to access.

05.  MORE ON OPENING IE WITHOUT DEFAULT HOME PAGE.  
A reader responded to our recent item suggesting a command line to open MS Internet Explorer without defaulting to the home page.  Why not place this tip on a desktop shortcut for easy access?  Why not, indeed.  Right click on an open desktop space and select New|Shortcut.  In the command line, enter (with quotes intact):
"C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\IEXPLORE.EXE" NoHome to create a shortcut on the desktop. You can rename it as desired.


06.  FASTER DEFRAG.  In response to comments about the unreliability of the onboard Windows defrag utility, a number of readers recommended the Microsoft WinMe Defrag.  It reportedly works not just with WinMe but with Win95 and Win98 as well.  It's a small download at http://www.tonkco.com/computercoach/WinMe_Defrag.zip 

07.  SHEDDING THE LOGO - PART 2. On our Bulletin Board, Dana Cardwell recently shared his recipe for changing the Win98SE logos. He suggested renaming the files in the event you want to return to the old logos. Find the startup logo in the root folder (C:\) as Logo.sys and rename it to Logo.old. The shutdown screens are in the Windows folder (C:\Windows) as Logow.sys (Windows is shutting down)  and Logos.sys (It's now safe to turn off your computer), and should be renamed to Logow.old and Logos.old.  Then, use Paint or any graphic program to replace the Startup and Shutdown screens. With Paint, you can import the graphic desired, select Attributes, set the required size of 320 pixels wide X 400 pixels high, then save as a bitmap file. Replace your art work with the file names Logo.sys, Logow.sys, or Logos.sys (depending on the screen to replace) and place them in the same place you found the original splash screens.  To return to the original screens at a later time, just delete or rename the current logo and rename the old files from .old  to .sys and save them as such.  Note: This will not work for pre-packaged systems like Dell or Compaq as they have already changed and moved these logos to replace with their own.

08.  CLOCKRACK.  Another timekeeping utility, ClockRack at
http://www.extremetech.com/article/0,3396,s%253D1046%2526a%253D1030,00.asp
provides a wide array of clocks from its database of world locations in
digital or analog format. As with most of these clock applications, you can expect automatic time setting on line using the services of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.


09.  EPROMPTER.  We reviewed this email retrieval program many months ago but it's updated and worth another look.  EPrompter retrieves email from up to 16 accounts ranging from AOL to Yahoo and nearly everything in between.  Use it to compose, forward, reply to messages, and schedule email updates.  It supports hyperlinks, standard firewalls, and proxy servers. EPrompter features optional notification screensaver and audio prompt alerts when email is received. The setup is a breeze.  It's a free download at http://www.eprompter.com .

10.  NETCRAFT.  Not your ordinary search engine, Netcraft at
http://www.netcraft.com examines a Web site you specify.  From its database of about 38 million sites, the service reports information about the host's operating system, server, last date a change was made, the IP address, etc.  Netcraft also provides uptime data and plots a graph; or, if no data is available, it will begin to monitor the site and provide statistics in a few days.


11.  INTERNET CONNECTION SPEEDOMETER.  The upside of this site at http://promos.mcafee.com/speedometer/test_0600.asp is the report that lets you know how fast your Internet connection is.  Of course, there are several such resources on the Web.  The downside, at least on one particular visit, was the deluge of pop up ads that were hard to escape.  Such is the Internet. One must often tolerate annoyances for the service a site has to offer, for free.

12.  MINIMIZE IN A HURRY.  If you're working with several open windows and want to quickly close them, one method is to right click on the blank area of your task bar. Selecting Minimize All Windows should do the trick.

13.  THANKS BUT NO THANKS.  The Internet offers a great value to us but some things you just have to question if the old non-tekkie way is better. Take, for example, the Paperless PO Box at http://www.paperlesspobox.com
..  As we understand it, if you're on the road a lot, you subscribe to this
service and they take your snail mail, open it up, scan it, and send it to
you by email so you can get your junk mail with your spam.  The service is $30 a month if you're content to read your scanned mail in drab black and white or $40 a month if you must have it in color. If you have more than 500 images, want them to archive all that stuff on a CD, or sort through your mail and send you only the good stuff (first class mail), there's an extra charge.  While this may be a valuable service, we'd opt for the slower but cheaper mail forwarding done by our old non-tekkie post office.

Or, giving a true rebuttal to the adage that "you can't take it with you"
there's CasketFurniture at http://www.casketfurniture.com .  Your sofa for just $2500 can convert to a casket when the time comes.  Or use it as a phone booth now and deposit your mortal remains later for just $2800. 
An entertainment center/casket is $2250. Fido hasn't been neglected and you can make his final resting place from a pet bed or coffee table. Now, we believe in recycling, but this is stretching it a bit.

14.  REGISTRY BACKUP.  Install on your desk top a backup copy of that all-important Registry File.  Click on Start and Run and enter "regedit" (without quotes) in the open field.  Clicking OK will bring up the Registry Editor window.  Click on Registry and from the drop-down menu, click on Export Registry File.  In the File Name field, type "backup" (again without quotes), in the Save In field select Desktop, in the Export Range group box select all, and click on Save.  A backup of your Registry now appears on your desktop and if you ever need to restore the registry, double click on it.

15.  INDUSTORIOUS CLOCK.  We've featured a number of timepieces in past issues of Neat Net Tricks, but perhaps the most ingenuous is the one by Yugo Nakamura at http://yugop.com/ver3/stuff/03/fla.html .  It requires Flash 5.0, a quick download in the unlikely event you don't already have it.  Industorious Clock then displays the time in a rather unconventional flash movie.

16.  HYPERSNAP-DX 4.  We yearn for the days of DOS when the Print Scrn actually sent the screen image off to the printer.  Now, without help, it only copies the image to the Clipboard, and other software such as Paint or Word is needed so the image can then be pasted and printed.  A graphics editor is needed if changes must be made in the image before printing.  A screen grabber utility makes the job a bit easier, and there are lots of them  available.  But HyperSnap-DX 4 captures the desired image and allows editing, annotation, and manipulation as well.  More than 20 image formats are supported with a lot of automated features and customizable user interface.  Download it free at http://www.hyperionics.com and pay $35 to register it and remove a print overlay.  And, speaking of registering, kudos to Hyperionics for a slick registration procedure.  Simply copy the script they provide to your Clipboard and the software reads from that to automatically complete the process.  Other software producers should take
note: easier is better.

17. READERS WRITE.  Several readers suggested an improvement in the technique to determine drive space occupied.  We suggested entering "dir" (without quotes) after reaching the C:\Windows> prompt in DOS.  Our ever-alert subscribers suggested adding switches and viewing the whole drive instead of just the Windows directory and without regard to their hidden or systems status.  While in DOS, go to the root directory (e.g., c:\) and enter after the prompt (without quotes) "dir /a /s" .  Another reader suggested using SequoiaView for a visual display of drive contents.  We've mentioned this utility before, but if you missed it, download it at http://www.win.tue.nl/sequoiaview/ .

18.  WHO'S BEHIND IT.  Two quick ways to determine who can be thanked or complained to about a Web site.  While at the site with Internet Explorer click Tools and Show Related Links.  Or, go to http://www.better-whois.com/ and enter the URL there
.

19.  VIEWLETBUILDER.  A neat idea for promoting products or using the Web as a training medium, the ViewletBuilder at http://www.qarbon.com lets you create animated online demonstrations.  You can use their product free with ads, or the paid professional version removes the banners.  There are a lot of customization features and no plug ins are required.

20.  ADDRESS BAR ON TASK BAR.  As a matter of convenience, you might consider placing an address bar on your task bar for ease of
surfing.  Simply right click on the task bar, select Tool bars and check
the Address option.



21.  RESTRICTED SITES.  A reader suggested controlling pop up ads with the Internet Explorer security settings.  She goes to Tools|Internet Options|Security|Restricted Sites, clicks on Add and enters those URL of sites most persistent with their ads.

22.  CLEANING OUT THE HARD DRIVE. An excellent visual for tips on clearing up space on the hard drive is at http://www.viewhow2.com/gen.jsp?asn=rkxahpe&v=:vf:tkxwwsl:4:harddrive_viewlet.html
.. Just sit back as it plays and take notes.


23.  LAN SUITE.  We'll save the best for last, but for starters, the 602 LAN Suite easily installs in less than 10 minutes to provide a secure mail server, virus and spam resistance, and automatic download and sorting of email from remote POP3 and local mailboxes.  A Web mail interface can be customized for text signature, email preview, ZIP support, spell checking, shared address books, delivery notification, and the list goes on.  It supports Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP.  And the best we promised?  The 5-user version is free at http://www.software602.com/free/ and you have to admit, that's a very good feature in itself.

24.  TAMING THE PAPER TIGER. It's spring again, at least for many of us, and with the season comes housecleaning time.  That likely should include your desk and computer clutter as well. Taming The Paper Tiger, described as "The Painless Way To Manage Paper", is an electronic system that indexes your files based on keywords and provides easy retrieval when you need them. The package works with Windows 95/98/2000/ME/NT and more information
is at http://www.thepapertiger.com .


Doug makes no endorsement or warranty, expressed or implied, with regard to featured products or services. Results may vary based on operating systems and other variables beyond our control.


 

Contact Doug at PC Computers Coach today and 
start learning what you'll need tomorrow!
( click on email button on the left ) 

PC Computers Coach
23497 Co Rd 10
Loretto, MN 55357
(763) 498-7046
(612) 205-3788 (Cell)
  

 


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