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Tricks & Tips

Archive for September, 2008

How to Search the Internet

September 30th, 2008
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Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWHPf00Jkqg

This is such a creative teaching method! The video above tells a short story on how Internet searches work and how to use them effectively.  I highly recommend a quick view by all.

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How to Password Protect Your Files

September 25th, 2008
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One customer writes in to ask:
“How can I make attachments secure when sending emails?   Is there a way I can have them password protected for WORD docs or PDF’s?”

This is a good question!  Last time I wrote about www.transferbigfiles.com.  This would be the easiest way when sending by email.  When there, click Advanced Options to set a password on the file before you send it.

On the other hand, most applications allow you to set a password for the files they create.  For example, QuickBooks lets you password protect your company file.  MS Office allows you to password protect their files.

For Office 2007 instructions: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word/HA101483331033.aspx
For Office 2003 instructions: http://www.microsoft.com/protect/products/yourself/office2003.mspx
(the above include options for MS Word, Excel, Power Point, etc)

To password protect a ZIP file, or Compressed Folder, in Windows XP: Open the zip file, choose the “File” menu, select “Add a Password.” Enter the password and confirm the password.

To password protect a PDF
you need a real PDF application, not just the free ones.  For example, Foxit, or Adobe Acrobat.  Foxit Pro allows you to password protect PDFs, as well as annotate, search, copy text, create forms, spell check, and tons more.  It’s well worth the $39.  Or, you can just send with a password using transferbigfiles.com.

For other applications, search for “password” in their help system and you should quickly get your answer.  Or just ask in the comments and I’ll look it up for you.

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How to Send Large Attachments

September 23rd, 2008
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It is difficult to send large files by email.  I’d suggest any files larger than 5MB or so should not be sent by email at all.

www.transferbigfiles.com allows you to upload large files to send on to friends or associates.   After you upload your file(s), they will send you and/or the recipient a link to download the file(s).  Note, the link is only valid for 5-10 days.

Step by step:

  1. Visit www.transferbigfiles.com
  2. Click Browse to select your file(s). For example, some photos, a ZIP file, PDF, etc.
  3. Type in the person’s email you want to send the files to.  You could send them back to yourself, just so you can obtain the link to include in your own email.
  4. Check the box if you agree with their terms and click Send It!

Note:  You’re really just looking for a link (like this: transferbigfiles.com/Get.aspx?id=bb9f4cab-07ec-4ce9-bd7c-7987654fa6a5 ).  You can include that link in an email, an instant message, etc to allow anyone to download your file.

If you send a lot of large files, they even have a Windows utility to make it easier.  Check out this video: http://transferbigfiles.com/media/usage_video_tbf/Default.aspx

Here are two other services that transfer large files:
www.sharebig.com – similar to transferbigfiles.com
www.yousendit.com – professional site that has many other paid options

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In-Flight WiFi and Cell Phones

September 18th, 2008
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It looks like we may soon see more availability of wifi access on board US flights.  That, and the use of our cell phones for calls and SMS (txt messaging).

Delta recently announced its pursuit to provide wifi access on all domestic flights by next year.  Note, *all*.  Although many carriers have tested wifi on board already, they’re only scattered on specific flights or aircraft models.  Delta comes in around $10 per flight.  Others range from free to $30 per flight.

For the tech at heart, the article talks a bit about the technology used (ground to air!).  I’ve also read others are using a satellite type connection.

Now, do you really want the guy next to you yelling at his phone during your quiet time?  I think that’s the hot topic.

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I’m a fan of MS Office 2007 now after getting use to it.  One thing that is cumbersome though is, it saves files in a new format that previous versions of Office can’t open.  This is frustrating working in a team environment, or sharing files with other people with older versions.

Here’s how you can change the default save method file type (.docx, .xlsx, etc) to save in the previous format for better compatibility:

For Word 2007 –

  1. Load MS Word 2007 and click the “Office Button” at the top left (the Office circle)
  2. Click Word Options at the bottom, and click Save on the left
  3. In the right pane, change the dropdown Save Files in This Format to Word 97-2003 Document (*.doc)
  4. Hit OK

For Excel, follow the same choices above except choose Excel 97-2003 Workbook (*.xls) in step 3.

Alternately, older versions of Office can download a compatibility pack that will allow you to open the new format: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/

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You miss a call on your cell phone.  Use YouMail to get a TXT MSG and/or an email alert instantly and listen online: www.youmail.com

YouMail is an alternative option to standard voicemail from your cell phone company (ATT, Verizon, etc).  They take your missed calls and give you complete control of the messages:

  • You can listen to your voicemails online anytime, anywhere.
  • You can still call your voicemail to listen like normal (eg. press and hold 1)
  • Turn on free transcription service to receive email and/or TXT of the transcribed voicemail message
  • Save your voicemails to MP3s to have forever
  • You have a complete voicemail history for review later
  • I like the greeting callers get. Your message (or one of theirs), then a BEEP. No long “press 1 for more options, or 2 for… blah blah blah”
  • Free, definitely worth a try by everyone, and you can turn off at any time


I can’t tell you how much I love this new service.  I just signed up yesterday and I forgot my cell today.  I checked my email from work and could listen to my voicemail there.

YouMail makes it dead simple to setup. Screen shots guide you through a 3 minute process.  I promise anyone can do this. 🙂

Please note, forwarding your calls to a new voicemail service will incur minutes used as the person is leaving a message.

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Fill Out PDFs (For Real)

September 10th, 2008
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Use http://www.pdfescape.com to fill out PDFs online, fast and free.

I mentioned Foxit last week to fill out PDFs.  Sadly, I quickly learned that they’re newest release prevents using their typing tool and print functions in the free version.  I have an older version it works in for me. My apologies.

I found some better options for you this time!  Pdfescape.com is an online service that lets you upload your PDF, edit online, then save back to your computer.  It really is pretty simple and worth a try.

A few notes of use:  A couple of times they ask you to register for free.  This isn’t required.  To save your PDF once edited, use the File menu, and Save As.

I found another neat tool as well. http://www.pdfhammer.com lets you merge/combine PDF files together, rearrange, and delete pages.  Very helpful!  This part is free, although they have other fee based options.

Neither of the above services add any watermarking or branding of their services to your PDFs

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PC World features a great summary of tips I couldn’t agree with more.  I highly recommend a quick read to see what you can glean:
http://www.pcworld.com/article/150320/20techhabits.html

Topics include faster searches, backups suggestions, smarter printing, online reminders, (secure) password management, cable management, and a bunch more.

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Fill Out PDFs

September 2nd, 2008
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Use Foxit to view AND fill out PDFs to get that clean, professional look:
(Before you start, you might ask, what is a PDF anyway? Click here)

I prefer Foxit over Adobe Reader because it is smaller and doesn’t slow down your computer as much.  Also with Foxit you can type anywhere on a PDF document.  Although the free version doesn’t let you save the file, you can print it or, print it back to a PDF.

Some PDFs already let you type in the assigned blanks.  This requires the author to set this up.  Foxit allows you to type on any PDF, anywhere.  Nice.

To get started using Foxit, this link will take you directly to the download:
http://www.foxitsoftware.com/downloads/

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