Electronic “Sticky Notes”…

August 29, 2008

I bet at home or at work you are a user of the 3M Post-it® Sticky Notes that stick practically anywhere for that message that needs to stay put and get noticed. Next to Velcro and duct tape, 3M Post-it® Notes has to rank up there as one of the great innovations of the 20th Century. :) Early in my career as an IT Manager I went on the hunt for an electronic “sticky notes” program similar to the paper Post-it® Notes. At that point in time, I found a very good commercial program called “TurboNote” [REVIEW IT HERE], which we used as an instant messaging tool on the network for years. Several years following this find, I started searching for and reviewing any “freeware or open source” sticky notes programs I could find. There are quite a few out there, but my findings led me to “Stickies” and “PNotes”, which are my two favorites. Which one do I have installed on my PC? It depends on the weather… I am honestly caught between these two and actually leave them on my PC. Whether it matters of not, I currently have “PNotes” running, as I compose this blog post. Nice feature of both is neither writes to the registry, and can be carried on your flash drive. If you are a user of the paper notes, I urge you to try one of these programs.

Click on the screenshots below to visit either the “PNotes” web site or the “Stickies” web site.


Make “AllMyFaves” your homepage…

August 29, 2008

If you are tired of looking at the same old browser homepage, give “AllMyFaves” a try… “AllMyFaves” is a compilation of top sites in a nice visual and categorized order. There is indication on the site that there is a customizable version in the works.

[AllMyFaves – Get It Here]


SUMO Paint Rocks…

August 24, 2008

Recently I submitted a post about applications that are “flash based” (Adobe Flash Player), requiring no installation, and can be opened in your web browser (i.e. Internet Explorer, FireFox, Opera). Recently I came across another “flash based” site called “SUMO Paint”. You really have to check this out [SUMO PAINT – Click Here]. SUMO Paint is FREE image editing software that gives you the opportunity to create, edit and comment images online with powerful tools and layer support. Appears the application is currently in beta (testing stages); but, what I have seen so far, it is fantastic. This site is an excellent example of how we will most likely access complex software applications across the internet in the very near future. If you want to go directly into the SUMO Paint application, go to www.sumopaint.com/app

[SUMO Paint – Get It Here]


Beware when the dog barks…

August 23, 2008

WinPatrolis one piece of software on my PC that I will not do without. It is basically my first line of defense against any critical changes made to my computer without my permission. After you install WinPatrol you will notice a little black “Scotty” dog in the system tray. That is confirmation that “Scotty” is on patrol. If any changes occur to the computer (i.e. hijackings, malware attacks, etc.), Scotty will actually bark and a dialogue box will appear alerting you that a change is about to take place AND what or where the change is occurring. You then have an option of accepting the change or not. Keep in mind, some of the things that Scotty alerts you to may be OK (i.e. software installs). WinPatrol can also be used to monitor, stop and control Windows services, detect and review new auto-startup programs and monitor IE home and search pages. I have been using WinPatrol on my computer for years. I highly recommend this software. There is a FREE version as well as a PLUS version. WinPatrol is coded By Bill Pytlovany, who also maintains a blog called “BillP Studios Spyware Blog” (click here).

[WinPatrol – GET IT HERE]


A Windows “Updater” Alternative…

August 20, 2008

This blog post is sort of “techie” in nature; but, I felt a need to do a write-up on an application that recently saved the day for me. If you are on a dial-up connection you probably have noticed that when Microsoft sends out the monthly operating system updates and/or the updates for Microsoft Office (if you have it installed); your internet connection speed can be affected and/or it takes you forever to ultimately receive the updates. Another scenario is that your computer crashes, you do a complete restore and now you have to download all of the updates all over again (very time consuming). Another scenario is that your Windows updates become corrupted and the updater is not working properly or one of the updates from Microsoft is basically dead in the water… Well there is a solution that may assist you in each of the scenarios. It is called “AutoPatcher“…

I recently put AutoPatcher to task on a computer (Vista) that my Dad recently purchased. My Dad lives in the land of “no technology” and his “dial-up” connection is slow, very slow… In order to bring his computer up to speed with the Windows Updates, which totaled a couple hundred megabytes, I downloaded/installed the “AutoPatcher Updater” on my computer (broadband connection), which allowed me to grab whatever updates I wanted. In my case, the AutoPatcher Updater software walked me through a process of grabbing all of the past updates to present time. I then burned the entire package to a CD and simply started the AutoPatcher software on his computer to install all of the Windows updates. I also turned “off” his Windows Update notifications and will periodically perform this process again with AutoPatcher. As I mentioned previously, this is “techie” software and I recommend you review the information on their website thoroughly… Really it is not that hard to do…  

Special thanks to my Information Technology friend, Bill; for giving me the idea for this post.

Description of AutoPatcher from the website:

What is AutoPatcher?

AutoPatcher could be described as an offline Windows Update. AutoPatcher provides an interface to a large collection of updates, common applications and registry tweaks, that can be easily and quickly applied to your computer system.

What are the advantages of AutoPatcher over Windows Update?

The main advantage is that you just have to do one download in order to have all the patches and add-ons, such as Sun Java, MSN Messenger 7.x and Windows Media Player 10. If you have many computers or if you format your computer frequently, it saves both time and bandwidth. With AutoPatcher, you can install critical patches offline, eliminating the risk of getting infected while using Windows Update. You can also come in handy when updating a friends PC, if he/she can’t access the Internet (or uses a narrowband connection).

[AutoPatcher – GET IT HERE]


Backup or Cry…

August 15, 2008

Early on in my career as an IT Manager I learned very quickly the importance of having a strategy in place to perform data backups. Most home based computer users don’t understand the importance of this, but will install firewalls and software to prevent viruses, malware, adware, hijackers, rootkits, trojans etc., yet the biggest threat out there is ourselves, because there are no backup strategies in place. You have to keep in mind, a computer is an appliance and like all appliances, it will fail. It is also a “give me” with computers that on at least one occasion during your ownership of the computer, you will have to get those factory restore disks out (if you have them) and restore the computer back to the original factory specs. You may stand back and say, “Ok, so what if I lose my files, no big deal, I don’t have anything on my computer that important.” Tell me that when it happens. I have actually seen people get that look of anxiety on their face, and cry. There are many software solutions and strategies available to perform backups, which I am not going to get into; however, if you want a simple solution to backup the files most important to you (ie. Photos, Documents, Music) I suggest you purchase an external hard drive to store your backup files and use a “Freeware” program called IdleBackup. Once you install and setup IdleBackup to backup your files, the backups will occur (unattended) at pre-determined intervals when your computer is idle. The author of IdleBackup has been diligently making adjustments to the software, to ensure a quality product. IdleBackup is currently part of my backup strategy on my computer. Listed are some of the basic features of the software:

  • Easy to use backup program for both novice and advanced user.
  • Manual or Automatic backup (with a set interval time) during idle time of the computer.
  • Easy restore, select directories and/or files to restore (with mirror backup).
  • 3 Backup modes: Mirror, Full Backup Zipped, and Sequential Backup Zipped

[IdleBackup – GET IT HERE]


Looking for a good web email service?

August 14, 2008

Inbox.com

I just found one… InBox.com

Inbox.com offers its users FREE 5GB* webmail account with online data storage, fast web & mail search, spam & virus protection, user friendly design & functions and is completely advertisement free. This is only a sample of what the service has to offer. If need be, you can upgrade from the FREE 5GB account to a 30 GB account for $29.88 a year ($2.50 per month).

Inbox’s primary components are:

Email
Photo Sharing
File Storage
Organizer (PIM)
Notes

Additional components available:

Own Customizable Homepage
Access to News, Games, Screensavers, ECards
Email Notifier
Browser Toolbar
Skinnable Interface

After setting up my account and really exploring the site, I opted to go with the basics with this service, avoiding the toolbar and email notifier… The email component, on a broadband connection, is fast, very attractive (skinnable) and interfaces very well with the other components the service provides. When you log into your account to check the mail, a tip of the day window will appear, and then the email component of the service will slide up from the bottom of your screen (pretty cool looking). I recommend after you setup an account that you go into the “Settings” tab to setup your spam protection, photo sharing, etc. I currently have my InBox account setup to harvest emails from my ISP’s Pop3 email account.

I checked around the internet to try and find some reviews on the service and found at “Top Ten Reviews” , a consumer research service, a side-by-side comparison of web email services was conducted and Inbox.com was rated #2… [SEE REVIEWS HERE]

My personal findings thus far is that InBox.com is now on my PC… : )

[Inbox.com - GET IT HERE]


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