Google Docs Improves the Experience of Exploring Your Files

January 31, 2011

Today Google made an announcement that users of Google Docs will see an update to their Google Docs account that will feature a new document list layout, added filtering features to find your files and; (the really cool part) a preview panel on the right side of the document list, so that you can see a preview thumbnail, your “sharing settings” and more at a glance.

Google Docs

This update hit my Google Docs account today and I have to say I am very, very impressed with the document list layout; and, especially impressed with the document previewing. I have been extensively using Google Docs to get a good handle on the feel of using the included apps, so as to advise the readers of the blog.

As we continue down this road of cloud computing, the only factor that concerns me is the security of our files. If I know Google and their innovative approach of bringing this all together, I look to see some type of security options available to protect our files in such a way to raise our comfort level a little more.

If you want to read the full scoop on the new features to Google Docs,
[ CLICK HERE ]

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Wallpaper of the Week (#2)

January 30, 2011

Here is the wallpaper of the week that I added to my collection titled:

“Mouse vs. Mouse”

Click on the wallpaper image to get this wallpaper!

image

Need wallpaper software to show off your wallpaper collection? Try one of these:

John’s Background Switcher

Walyk Wallpaper Changer

Wallpaper Updater

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Build a Personalized Database in a Snap

January 28, 2011

I have always had a fascination with databases, in that you can store information and readily access that information very quickly. As a matter of fact, just about every facet of internet and computer information storage and retrieval is database driven.

I recently found a really neat program called SnapDB which allows you to build simple, customizable flat-file database that can be used to store and track any type of information that you can think of.  For example, I started using SnapDB to manage a video collection and to track the servicing of my vehicles.  If you never built or experienced a database, this little program is about as easy as it gets. It is also portable app, as well.

How easy is it to build your own database with SnapDB?

[ CLICK HERE ]

to see the “how to” video.

SnapDB

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Is Windows Search a True Performance Hog?

January 27, 2011

Guest Article By:

TuneUp Blog
Tibor Schiemann, President and Managing Partner, TuneUp

One of the most persistent myths about Windows is, disabling the Windows Search index will significantly increase PC performance and reduce hard disk activity. The Windows Search index is a particularly handy Windows 7 tool, so it shouldn’t be casually disabled. Let’s dive deeper into this myth and figure out whether it actually works or not.

First, it’s important to know how Windows Search works. After installing Windows or turning on your PC for the first time, Windows Search creates an index of specific files, folders and other items, such as Outlook emails or Start Menu entries, on your hard disk. This index is loaded into the main memory (RAM) of your PC and fuels extremely fast searches. The way this works is, instead of browsing through your entire hard disk or huge folders, Windows Search simply accesses the index and immediately produces results.

Windows Search is especially helpful for multi-taskers, who are always looking for e-mails or files. It’s important to figure out whether you’ll need the feature because the question about its impact on PC performance is complicated. The easy answer is, yes, disabling Windows Search index results in longer search times. But here’s the caveat—this is only the case for folders that are being indexed. These include the entire user folder, all Start Menu entries, offline files, Outlook contacts, appointments and installed e-mails, installed and used OneNote notes, and Internet Explorer history.

What’s kept inside the index need not be a mystery. You can see how much and what is being indexed on your system by going to the Control Panel and typing “Windows Search” into the search bar. Then, click on Indexing Options, and you’ll see an index that could be quite large (depending on how much data is there). But are you still wondering if shutting down the index is worth the performance benefit? I benchmarked this very question on my day-to-day work machine and will share what I found with you.

Putting the Windows Search Index to the Test

For the test, I used a Core 2 Duo with 3.2 GHz, 4 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD hard disk, as well as a lower-end machine with a Core 2 Duo 1.86 GHz, 2 GB of RAM and a much slower 5,400 RPM hard disk. From here on, I’m going to refer to them as the faster notebook and the slower notebook.

The faster notebook had nearly 40,000 items indexed. However, I added all of the folders on all of my hard disks to the Windows Search index. That should give some noticeable results, as more than 300,000 files were added to this machine. The slower notebook had about 20,000 items indexed, which is closer to the amount of files (such as pictures, emails and documents) typical PC users keep on their computers. My comparisons of these two extremes should help you decide whether it’s a good idea to disable the Windows Search index.

First, I wanted to test the Windows Search index activity and added a couple of hundred files to the slower notebook and about 300,000 files to the faster one; this was to see how much these machines struggled with a growing Windows Search index. And, Windows proved itself—while users are working on their machines, the operating system reduces the indexing speed so that it does not impact PCs’ performance. It didn’t matter if I added 500 or 300,000 files; Windows never slowed down in any perceivable manner—even an average CPU consumption of 10% did not noticeably impact the performance. Here’s a quick summary of what I found:

Quick Summary

Comparing the Time to Startup and Shutdown

But does Windows Search have a significant impact on boot-up and shutdown performance? In theory, it should slow these processes because the service and index need to be loaded into main memory.

To test this, I looked at the times with Windows Search enabled and disabled. Both of the machines actually booted just a bit faster with Windows Search disabled. The faster notebook’s shutdown time more noticeably improved, whereas there was no difference in the slower notebook’s shutdown time whether Windows Search was disabled or enabled.

Quick Summary

Moving on with the tests, I similarly found that there was a very slight difference in performance (with Windows Search enabled and disabled) when running a virus scan—an activity which is very intense on the hard disk and CPU. And again, when testing the startup of Microsoft Outlook 2010; and yet again, when trying out the 3D animation performance benchmark Cinebench. Windows Search turned out to not be such a performance hog after all!

For more on the Windows Search benchmarks and specifics on each test run, visit TuneUp’s blog at http://blog.tune-up.com.

Enabling or Disabling: That Is the Question

Following the tests, I believe that Windows Search actually has an effect on performance—although the feature only slows things down a little bit, more so when it comes to lower-end machines. The myth of Windows Search being a real performance hog originated with Windows Vista due to its search performance issues, and probably just continued on with the Windows 7 operating system.

Not sure which way to go: enable or disable the Windows 7 feature? Users should always enable Windows Search if you need to find files, emails, programs and contacts, among other things, once in a while. But if you heavily rely on faster search, don’t touch it. On the other hand, Windows Search should be disabled, if you just use your machine for one purpose only, like as a gaming or as a Windows Media Center-based PC, if you never search for files, or if you just want to squeeze the very last ounce of performance out of your PC.

Have your own conclusions to share about the Windows Search myth? I invite you to email me at tibor.blog (at) tune-up.com or post a comment to the TuneUp Blog about Windows.

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Geek Squeaks’ of the Week (#96)

January 26, 2011

Computers and Information Technology is changing at a rate like never seen before. To keep up with the changes, to protect yourself and to learn about the new technologies; it is important to find good resources. Listed below are the resources I depend on to help keep me touch, that I highly recommend.

Geek Squeaks'

Techpiper
Kompozer -The best free webeditor

Awesome Wallpapers
Star Wars Wallpaper Set 9

My Technology Guide
Microsoft Releases Attack Surface Analyzer Security Tool

TTC Shelbyville
Test If You Can Multi-task

I Want Ice Water
The Trouble With Hierarchies

404 Tech Support
Google Releases Google Cloud Print Beta To The Public

Worthy Tips
How To Know Wi-Fi Information Around Your PC

I Love Free Software
Image Tools: Bulk Image Converter, Resizer, Cropper, Watermarker

Netbook Freeware
Security Process Explorer: Free Windows Task Manager Alternative
for Netbooks

Chicago Mac/PC Support
Cisco: Puppy cams threaten Internet

PC Optimization Secrets
Is Desktop PC Dead?

Malware Removal Instructions
How to remove Windows Scan and Memory Scan (Uninstall Guide)

AKSGEEK Live
Microsoft Release OneNote app for iPhone, free for Limited Time

Online Storage Reviews
Preserving Your Memories Online

Gadgetsholic
MetroPCS Samsung Forte Leaked

Tech-for Everyone
Skype Malware Now Attacks Apple?

Rarst.net
Light-Bot 2.0 – programming puzzle game

Lifehacker
What Are Your Favorite Search Tricks?

TuneUp Blog about Windows
Do Security Solutions Slow Down Your PC? (Part 1 – Introduction)

Paul’s Home Computing Blog
5 Dumbest Things To Do With Email Spam

RGdot
My Calendar: Freeware Calendar And Date Utility

Carol’s Vault
PDFZilla Time-limited Giveaway – Get PDFZilla For FREE!

Faster PC! Clean! Clean!
How to Remove Smart Scan

Plato Online
There’s No Such Thing as Net Neutrality

Bill Mullins’ Weblog – Tech Thoughts
Consumer Statistics Survey –
50% Of Computer Users Lost Data In 2010

thePC Security
Automatic Email Attachment Download
From Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and Others

Canadian Tech Blogger
Apple Hits The 10th Billion App Downloaded From App Store

What’s On My PC
What’s starting on your PC?

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Can you buy online storage space from Google?

January 23, 2011

I was recently asked the question, “Can you buy online storage space from Google?”.  The answer is YES.

Google has been generous in providing online storage space for a variety of their FREE products; however, FREE storage space is specific to each product and FREE storage from one product cannot be used by or transferred to another product.  For example:

Picasa Web Albums offers 1 GB of storage for photos and videos only.

Gmail provides 7+ GB (and counting) which is reserved just for Gmail messages.

Docs gives you 1 GB for your uploaded files (documents created in Google Docs and converted files don’t count towards your storage, but do have some size limitations).

If you have a Google Gmail account and are using any of the applications I previously mentioned you can determine how much online space you are currently consuming in any of these applications by clicking on the graphic below:

Manager Storage

Where you can overcome these restrictions, and store it all, is by purchasing additional storage from Google that allows you to share the space between all of your Google applications. As a matter of fact, with the Google Operating System on the horizon, I can see people purchasing additional space; especially if this online operating system takes hold and they come up with their own file syncing tools.

Cost for additional space:

20 GB – $5/yr
80 GB – $20/yr
200 GB – $50/yr
400 GB – $100/yr
1 TB – $256/yr
2 TB – $512/yr
4 TB – $1024/yr
8 TB – $2048/yr
16 TB – $4096/yr

Also from what I have researched, the storage level you purchase is set to auto-renew (or auto pay), by default, at the end of the year. You can upgrade or downgrade the storage level anytime.  If you opt out of the annual auto renewal billing cycle, and let your subscription expire, the following will occur:

After your storage expires (including the 30-day grace period) or after you cancel the subscription, your storage limits will be set back to the free levels for each product. All of your existing data (photos, emails, uploaded files) will still be accessible, but you won’t be able to add anything new for any product over the free storage limit. Here are the specifics:

  • Gmail (7+ GB free storage): If you’re at or beyond your storage limit, all new incoming emails will hard bounce. This means your inbox is full; you won’t receive new email.
  • Picasa Web Albums (1 GB free storage): If you’re at or beyond your storage limit, you will not be able to upload any new photos and videos.
  • Docs (1 GB free storage): If you’re at or beyond your storage limit, you will not be able to upload any new files.

So if you are big on using Google’s applications, as indicated in this article, and want to keep everything under one roof, then purchasing additional space may be feasible [ click here ]; however, keep in mind there other FREE options out there. (i.e. SkyDrive 25GB FREE)

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Wallpaper of the Week (#1)

January 23, 2011

Every Sunday I will be featuring a wallpaper background that I think is keeper.  All the wallpaper images will directly link to the download site where the wallpaper is located; also, there will be a separate wallpaper category link so that you can bring up the collection.

If you know of any good wallpaper sites where I can go fish for wallpaper backgrounds, and look for the best, let me know!

Click on the wallpaper image to get this wallpaper!

image

Need wallpaper software to show off your wallpaper collection? Try:

John’s Background Switcher

Walyk Wallpaper Changer

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