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Tricks & Tips

Archive for June, 2008

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Do you use Wikipedia?  I use it daily.

What is Wikipedia
According to Wikipedia (hehe), “Wikipedia (pronounced /ˌwiːkiˈpiːdiə/ or /ˌwɪkiˈpiːdiə/) is a multilingual, Web-based, free content encyclopedia project.”

Although it has been around since 2001, it wasn’t until about a year or two ago that it unintentionally became a new way of searching for me.  Wikipedia typically has the best description and details about WHATEVER you are looking for.  Rather than search the Internet in general, a typical search for me often includes the word “wiki”.

Wikipedia is user contributed content.  I find it often offers the best answers in a format and consistency I prefer.

For example:
Google, “wiki disney”.  Typically, the first results (when including the word wiki), will be the official site of that topic on Wikipedia.

Or, Google, “wiki rome”.  Wikipedia’s full of details for all information concerning the city. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome)

Or, try “wiki miracle fruit” for an interesting bit of information I learned the other day.

Rather than wade through unknown sites for information, try adding wiki in your search to see if you can quickly get exactly what you’re looking for.

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Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

June 24th, 2008
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As you advance your computer skills you will prefer less interaction with the mouse.  There are tons of shortcuts you can use on your keyboard to limit back and forth from keyboard to mouse.  So you can work more efficiently, here are a few shortcuts I use daily.

Spacebar – When browsing the web, use the space bar to go down a page

F2 – With a file selected use F2 to quickly rename it

PrtScr – This button will copy the entire screen.  Use the Edit menu and Paste the picture to an email or image editor for a fast screen shot

CTRL + C (hold the CTRL button and tap C) – Will copy text for you to paste elsewhere (text must be highlighted first)

CTRL + V – Pastes your copied text to the area you have selected

CTRL + F – Find text on a page

ALT + TAB – Cycle through your open programs

Windows Key + D – Minimizes all screens so you can see your desktop instantly

ALT + F4 – Closes the open window

Delete – Everyone uses backspace, but do you use the delete key? It does the same thing as backspace but from the left side of the cursor instead of the right. Try it!

Windows + L – Quickly lock your computer

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USB Port for Your Car

June 19th, 2008
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USB Car Adapter
You can get a USB adapter that plugs into your cigarette lighter in your car.  They can be extremely useful.  I just got one the other day and I love it.  Use it to power or charge your MP3 player, GPS unit, camera, etc.  My BlackBerry uses a standard USB cable so I charge my cell phone battery.  Don’t buy the proprietary $30 chargers for EACH device.  If your electronics have power options via USB, just power it with the cigarette lighter USB converter.

Wal-Mart, OfficeMax, and Radio Shack probably all have them.  I found several suppliers online for less than $5.  Here are some links if you prefer to shop from home:
http://tinyurl.com/5bx38h  (has light to indicate power, 2 USB ports)
http://tinyurl.com/636mat  (great photos and reviews,  no light and only single port)

(There are also some that convert a 110 home power outlet to a USB charger. That’d  be great for traveling / hotels.)

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How to Minimize Clutter

June 17th, 2008
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Take a picture of things you need save.  A receipt, a note, directions, another picture, etc.  Snap it, then throw it away.  Email the picture to yourself.

This might also work to reduce sentimental things you might collect.  Taking a picture can still retain the visual memory, without the actual item.  Use your camera to photograph the item, and then let it go.  This is a great way to really clean house.

I heard about this cleaning method a while back but it wasn’t until recently I put it into practice.  I don’t have my scanner (wow do I scan everything!) and my wallet was getting jammed with receipts and notes.  I use my camera phone to snap (or “scan”) and then toss the paper.  Easy!

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Did you know you can create a desktop shortcut to make logging in to
frequently accessed computers a snap? Yes! It can really save some
time. One link, goes directly to your computer:

1. Login to your account.
2. Click Edit to the right of your computer.
3. Click Desktop Shortcut across the top.
4. Click the “here” link to create a favorite.

This will only create a favorite’s link. Right click and cut this
link. Move to your desktop with a right click, paste to get the
shortcut.

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If we support your computer, you probably already know what LogMeIn is.  But do YOU use it? LogMeIn is a remote desktop application that allows you to login and access your computer from anywhere. Just like you were sitting in front of it.  Browse files, send email, use any application on your computer.  Best of all, it’s free!

From the office, access your home computer or visa versa.  Traveling?  Login to your computer from any Internet cafe.  Need to help a friend with their computer?  LogMeIn!  It now works on Macs and the iPhone.

Signup for a free account at www.logmein.com.  Just click the large green, “Download LogMeIn Free” button and follow the few simple steps.  It’s extremely simple, fast, and it’s secure.

LogMeIn is an invaluable product for us.  We use it daily.

They do have a subscription service available that allows remote printing, audio, file sharing, network services and more. Great company.

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Turn your webcam into a surveillance camera. HomeCamera software allows you to automatically record, get stills or videos from your webcam from any browser, including your cell phone, and a host of other features. Motion detection options can even alert you by email. Currently the beta is free, but they plan to always have a free version along with a full version at $14.95/yr.
www.homecamera.com

I found a few other sites that are completely free but I don’t know the details on them. If you’re interested in this project, you might check these out as well:
http://www.yawcam.com/
http://www.zoneminder.com/ 

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Stop the Junk Snail Mail

June 3rd, 2008
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Not the email, the real stuff (more on SPAM soon).  Do you get too much?  Below are some useful resources for reducing your solicitations.  I’ve read some have had great success, almost cutting it out entirely!  All links are legit and can be trusted:
 https://www.dmachoice.org/MPS/proto1.php
 https://www.optoutprescreen.com/opt_form.cgi
 http://www.worldprivacyforum.org/toptenoptout.html

Request Mail Hold Online
Since we’re talking about real mail here, did you know you can request a temporary hold of your mail online?  The United States Postal Service can hold your mail (from 3 to 30 days).  Set it up through their website:
https://dunsapp.usps.gov/HoldMail.jsp

You can also change your address,  or have your mail forwarded using the USPS’ website.

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