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Tricks & Tips

Archive for March, 2009


The new Google Earth 5 is a must see. I typically only use Google Maps, as you don’t have to install anything, but the latest version includes some neat features that chair side travelers, as well as the small business could utilize:

  1. View changes of areas with historic images
  2. Travel under the sea. Watch associated videos through partners like National Geographic
  3. 3D tours include buildings, terrain, and even Mars
  4. Record your tour, narrate and share with friends

Google Earth: Learn more or download now

In the news…
iPhone update 3.0’s is scheduled for release this summer. It’s rumored to include copy and paste and Internet sharing (tethering). Continue reading…


How to Use Just One Password

March 26th, 2009


Windows/Mac:  LastPass is a free tool that remembers all your website login passwords. Sound a bit scary?  You have to login to LastPass first with a “master password”, then it will log you in to all your sites.  Walk away for a few minutes and it can automatically log you out.

You might have sites you visit often such as news, banking, magazine subscriptions, etc.  LastPass gives you ONE password to remember and does the rest of the work for you.  Fewer clicks, less to remember, get more done! =)

Video:  LastPass Introduction

Download:  Try LastPass now (click Get lastpass)

In the news…
AVG, our preferred anti-virus application and free for home use, just released their newest version: download AVG 8.5 (use left link).


Overwhelmed by Email?

March 24th, 2009

Gee we get a lot of emails these days!  How do you manage when your Inbox has 10,000 messages in it?  Which are priority?  Which is next?  If you’re looking to improve, here are some starting points:

In the news…

Video: Flying Car Takes Flight! Although this isn’t the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen, it’s a good sign of things to come.


Common Craft continues to push out awesome, simple to understand videos.  Here’s their Computer Hardware in Plain English. This three minute video explains the basics so any beginner can understand.

In the news…
Recycle old electronics:  Best Buy now accepts most all electronics for recycling.  Continue reading…


Why The Red X In My Emails?

March 17th, 2009

One customer asked:
“Why is it when I open certain emails, the picture shows up as a blank box with a little red square in the upper left corner?”


For security, most email applications disable pictures by default.  Instead of seeing the photo, you see a blank white box with the red X (above).  If you trust the sender and want to show the pictures, right click on it and choose Download Pictures.  Or, there may be a link at the top that says “Show Images”.

Other reasons for this could be the sender didn’t attach the picture correctly or the linked photo isn’t valid or online.

Want to permanently allow images?
Try adding the sender to your address book.  Often this tells your email program you trust the sender.  Or to allow ALL images, follow the instructions for your email program:

  • Outlook 2003:  Tools -> Options -> Security -> Change Automatic Download Settings -> Uncheck “Don’t download pictures or other content automatically in HTML email.”
  • Outlook 2007:  Tools -> Trust Center -> Automatic Download -> Uncheck “Don’t download pictures…”
  • Outlook Express:  Tools -> Options -> Security tab -> Uncheck “Block images and other external content in HTML e-mail”

Why? ( technical )
Images in emails can expose many extra details about you.  By requesting the image, one can determine that you did open their email.  They could also record details such as your IP address (almost your physical location).  Typically this is harmless for statistical reasons only.  However, think about opening images in a spam message – you just told the spammer that you check and read your email!

A little extra…

Tax Law:  The 25 Most Frequently Asked Questions



Meebo lets you connect to (most) any instant messaging (IM) social network.  For example, Yahoo, AOL Instant Messenger, MySpace, Facebook, Google Talk, etc.

What’s so special?  Well, Meebo lets you connect through a webpage interface.  So if you’re traveling, if these services are blocked at your work place, or if you just don’t want to install the software, here’s an easy online way to connect quickly with your friends.

It’s simple, and free…  try Meebo here.

In the News…
Wow. Eu is a small French town that’s changing its name.  Why?  They want better search results on Google!  Ha!.  Read more…


Have you tried Skype yet?  If not, check out our previous tip for all the details.  Remember, Skype is free when calling other Skype users.

1.  Place calls from your cell phone
International is what I’m referring too.  Skype’s rates calling abroad trump the land line or any cell phone companies hands down.  Setup Skype To Go to get a local number in your area.  Dial this number from your cell then dial your international number.  The charges will be on your billed to your Skype account (less standard minutes) at their low rates.  I just used my cell and Skype To Go to call a support company in Ireland for 6 minutes – cost me $.21.

2.  Use Skype as a home monitor while away
Call your home Skype account from a remote location to see, and hear what’s going on.  It’s really quite simple to do:

  1. After you’ve setup Skype at home, go to Tools, Options.  Look under Call Settings and choose Advanced Options.
  2. Under Allow calls from, dot People in my Contact list only.  Check Answer incoming calls automatically, and Start my video automatically.
  3. Ensure you’ve added your 2nd Skype account as a contact then just dial your home Skype anytime while you’re away.

3.  Use Bluetooth for hands-free
I prefer a webcam with built in mic.  But if you’re looking for privacy without the cords, sync your Bluetooth headset to your computer.  You must have Bluetooth built in to your computer, or purchase a USB add-on.  Once synced, go to Options.   Look under Audio Settings to select Bluetooth.

4.  Do you use your computer for Skype?  You don’t have to!
For super ease of use, you can purchase a USB phone that connects to your computer.  Take it a step further and look for a wireless phone. Sure!  Skype Wireless phone works wherever you can find wireless access (not cell).  Shop @ Skype for all the extra gadgets.

5.  Skype is for your business too
Setup a real number to receive calls in Skype from land lines and cells.  Voicemail, conference calls, call recording, transferring, and call logs are more options available.  Check out Skype’s video overview.

In the news…
See what Microsoft imagines 2019 might be like: start video.



Does the sound of “VoIP” or “voice over IP” scare you?  Have you been interested, but think it’s just too complicated?  It really isn’t.  Follow a few simple steps below and you’ll be happy you did!  My grandparents are 600 miles away, and my cousin just left for Afghanistan.  Using a webcam with Skype, it’s like we’re all chatting around the same table.  No joke.

Getting Started

  1. If you want to do things right and make this as easy as possible, purchase a webcam with a built in mic.  I suggest the Logitech QuickCam Pro.  This takes a lot of hassle and wires out of the equation.  Any webcam will work – check your local office supply store.  Again, look for the mic built in.
  2. Download and install Skype for free at www.skype.com
  3. Ask your friends or family to do the same steps above
  4. Search for your friends in the Instant Message style chat tool to start communicating

If you’ve tried Skype before (been around for years), give it another whirl.  The newest version, 4.0, focuses on bandwidth improvements for a better video experience.

In the news…
Time Change!
Spring forward – be sure to set your clocks forward before you go to sleep Saturday night.  Continue reading….


DWZ is now Digital Office

March 3rd, 2009

We’ve been excited about this for quite a while.  Because of your referrals over the years we’ve continued to grow.  We’re the same great team, but as of today we’ve upgraded internally to Digital Office, LLC.

Check out our new website: www.digitaloffice.com.  Your feedback is important; feel free to reply or comment online.

Still need a tip today?
You can search all our previous tips on our new site.  I’m sure you haven’t read them all! 😉  We appreciate your comments in the feedback section of each tip.