Thursday, May 29, 2008

QuickTip: Text Replacement with Texter

Cut down on repetitive typing with Texter.

Download at Lifehacker.

I've been using texter for a little while now and I absolutely love it. I haven' t run into a limit on the replacement text yet and I've done some very long replacements.
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Monday, May 26, 2008

QuickTip: Password Protect Excel Files

In Excel 2007, when saving a file at the Save As Dialog click Tools, then General Options and enter a password. Whenever you (or anyone else) attempts to open the file a you will be prompted to enter the password before opening the file.
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Quick Date Calculation, software or website

Quick post today covering two options to quickly find out exactly when that 30 day deadline is up.

It seems that there are about a half dozen applications floating around that are all simply called "date calculator". I downloaded this one and it seems to work just fine. It's lightweight, and can add or subtract days from any given date.

Another alternative that I used a lot last summer was this website.

Both easily do what they're supposed to do... I'll probably keep the program installed on my computer just in case I'm ever offline and need to find a date.
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Monday, May 19, 2008

Find things FAST on your computer

When it comes time to open a program or find a specific file how long does it take you? How many clicks? How many folders do you navigate through? Odds are it can be done a lot more efficiently.

There are several options available to make launching programs and opening files a painless, speedy process (and you probably didn't even know it was a problem!).

There are two main types of application launchers. There is the dock family, which mimics the application bar made popular in Mac OS X. This type of launcher sits at the bottom (or top, or side) of your screen and holds shortcuts to several often used programs. ObjectDock and RocketDock are popular options for Windows. Both are free and I've used each at some time in the past. They're both perfectly legitimate options for ridding your desktop of clutter and will likely help you be a bit more efficient.

I have scrapped both of those options in favor of what I probably consider the most handy piece of software on my computer today. Launchy is another free application launcher, but unlike those in the dock family. Launchy is in what I will call the "Launcher" family. Launchers stay hidden until needed, taking even more clutter off of your desktop, and pop up when called to deliver what you're looking for.

What makes Launchy the best launcher I've seen is that you can not only launch programs with it, you can call up files as well. Launchy can easily be customized to include a template subdirectory so that you can type the first few letters of a file you're looking for and it is quickly delivered and opened by pressing enter. Launchy is called to the screen by pressing [alt]+[spacebar] by default, but this can be changed to something more intuitive to you. Quicksilver is a popular option for Macs.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Voicemail to email self-reminders

Get ready. This is another one of those 'change the way you work' posts. Jott is a service you set up from your cell phone and once you have it, you'll wonder how you lived without it (The DVR test of an items usefulness).

At it's base, jott converts voice to text. But it's the integration with various web services that seals the deal for jott. You can use jott to send yourself emails, send others emails, you can blog by voice (blogger, wordpress, livejournal), add items to your calendar by voice (GoogleCalendar, 30 boxes), add items to to do lists (RememberTheMilk), add items to reminder services (Sandy), even shop (amazon). All by voice.

Not only is the convenience factor something you should consider, but jott makes your life safer too. Imagine this not so unbelievable situation, you're driving along, your blackberry beeps, new email, it's urgent, you start to reply, get distracted, get in a wreck. With jott you can simply read the email, then call up jott, and speak your email just as you would write it. The email's sent, and you're still alive.

Clearly, using jott is a matter of life and death.

Here's a hint that I've found useful. I'm at the mall with my wife, she sees something and makes one of those cryptic comments that she wants this for her birthday in 6 months that I'm supposed to remember (ya right!). Jott to the rescue, I send my self an email with the gift ideas.

Jott saves lives, Jott saves marriages... what can't Jott do?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Customize Windows Save As Bookmarks

"Save As Bookmarks" you say? What in the world are "Save As Bookmarks"? Well, frankly, I have no idea what they are actually called, but you'll all know what I'm talking about in a minute. The bar on the left hand side of the windows Save As dialog has five predetermined, supposedly commonly used, folders for you to pick from. These would be handy, except who has ever actually saved something to their Network Places? Or to My Computer? Or even just in the top level of My Documents? No, if you're like me, and you're here so you probably either are or aspire to be, you are ultra organized in your folder hierarchies and these 'bookmarks' are simply jumping off points to navigating toward the correct folder.

I just heard an Obama commercial that ended with "The world as it is is not the world as it has to be." Now while it pains me to quote Obama here, and Mike may well edit this out... I wouldn't put it past him, the point is this. EVERYTHING IS CUSTOMIZABLE.

There are two simple, free programs that you can use to edit these 'bookmarks'

First, a program that is infinitely useful and that I highly recommend you install and play around with is TweakUI (download link on the right hand side about half way down the page) . It's a PowerToy from Microsoft that enables you to edit the way XP works and displays in several ways. It's something you'll want to keep installed on your computer. Follow this screenshot (custom folders require you to insert their path)

Second, there's a free program called Placesbar Constructer, apparently it's called the Placesbar, meh, I prefer "Save As Bookmarks". It's a bit easier to use than TweakUI for this specific purpose, but it's only use is this function. In my mind a program that only has one function has to be pretty awesome for me to award it a permanent place on my hard drive. Setting custom folders is easier in this program than in TweakUI, especially if you're looking for something hidden deep in the "documents and settings" folders, but after I discovered TweakUI can handle the custom keyed in folders, it became the clear winner.

The Result:
Before After

I'm sure I'll fine tune my starting off points as I observe my saving habits more, but it's nice to have the option of starting where I want.

[edit: I can't vouch for either of these in Vista... Both work fine using XP SP3]
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