Sunday, April 20, 2008

Backing Up Avoids Crack Ups

backup data early and often
UPDATE: This post has been one of the most popular here on OneCoolTip.  A few additional ways to backup your important data include copying files to cloud storage systems like DropBoxMicrosoft One Drive and Google Drive.  In addition, with so many photos stored on a phone, it's best to ensure there is an auto-upload photo program like Google's new Google Photo app to ensure that if the device is lost or stolen, you still have your precious photos.

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One of the worse things that can happen to a computer user is to lose one's data.

It's there one day. And then it's gone. Never to come back again.

Treasured family photos. Financial records. A doctoral dissertation.

Gone. Forever.

But it doesn't have to happen. Like most things in life, a little prevention is the best medicine.

Data can be backed up easily in a variety of ways, USB Flash Drives, CD and DVD Writers, External Hard Drives, or online storage. Each can be useful.

If you are paranoid, use them all. The point is it's never to early to back up your data and store it in a safe place.

One caveat is to always keep financial information secure.  And that probably means keeping it to a physical medium like a disk drive or CD that is stored at a different location.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Photoshop for Free

Photoshop ExpressNeed to "photoshop" a photo but don't have hundreds of dollars to spend on the software?

Well Adobe would still like you to use their software rather than using Paint.net or one of the web-based services like Flickr, Picasa or Facebook.

So last month Adobe released a new online service called Photoshop Express. It's a Web-based, still in beta, service for storing, sharing and editing photos.

Photoshop Express is available at http://www.photoshop.com/express/

The new Photoshop Express has many of the same features as other online services. But Photoshop has long been known for its extensive editing features and the free service shines. And Photoshop Express has the best set of features that are easy-to-use.

Like other services, you can share your photos in albums or download them to your PC. Larger files will of course take longer time to upload than using local software.

But when you need to do some editing, Photoshop Express is a good tool.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Sky's the Limit

Google SkyNeed a map of the constellations in a hurry? Want to see Hubble's beautiful photographs of distant galaxies?

Traveling to the stars has never been easier. Check out Google Sky at http://sky.google.com

UniverseSimilar to Google Maps, you can scroll around the galaxy. Popular locations have text blocks of information making your sky journal educational as well.

In addition, you can view the sky with these views:
  • Infrared - An infrared view of the sky from the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS). Change the transparency of this layer by moving the slide bar to blend the optical and infrared.
  • Microwave - A view of the microwave sky from NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), which shows the universe as it was 380,000 years after the big bang.
  • Historical - The sky as drawn by Giovanni Maria Cassini (printed in 1792) showing the constellations in their classical form from the collections of David Rumsey


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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Saving Files Saves Time

Internet Explorer Save Target AsUsers often complain that reading some documents on the web can be a slow and painful process. Especially on dial-up or slower-speed connections.

But there's a simple work around.

Rather than clicking a link to open a PDF, Word, PowerPoint or similar document within the browser, use the "Save Target As" feature of Internet Explorer to save the file to your local hard drive first. Then open this file directly from your PC.

To do this, hover over any html-link to a file, right mouse-click the link and select the option "Save Target As..." In Firefox, the command is named, "Save Link As".

Be sure to save the file in a location where you can remember it. Then, minimize Internet Explorer and use the "My Computer" option in Windows to locate the file, double-click and view the file. You can also open the application first and use "Open" to find and open the file.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Paint with the Pros

Paint.net paint graphicsWhen creating complex graphics, professionals use PhotoShop. But this is a high-end package that costs hundreds of dollars.

But there is another choice that meets many of the same requirements and costs nothing. And that is Paint.net

Paint.net offers a simple, intuitive, and innovative user interface along with advanced tools and special effects.

The program is a open-source and updated on a regular basis. So before you go out and pay hundreds of dollars for a graphics package, check out Paint.net.

To Get Paint.net, visit: http://www.getpaint.net/

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Fight Back with the Consumerist

consumerist consumer complaintWhen it comes to consumer issues, Caveat Emptor. Let the buyer beware.

But Information is power. And information from others is a hallmark of the Internet.

So the Consumerist, http://www.consumerist.com, is a great site for shoppers to learn about consumer issues with retailers. It's motto is "Shoppers Bite Back".

The site is a mixture of tips and consumer stories of being wronged by merchants. The editors and readers offer suggestions for resolving. Or at least offer up the cautionary tale as a warning for others.

This should be on everyone's daily reading list.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Return to the Past with Windows Restore

Microsoft Windows RestoreA common problem we hear from frustrated PC users is "my computer started acting strangely this week. What should I do?"

So before you throw your PC down the stairs, stay calm a try a few simple things to get your CC back up and running.

Usually we recommend a good anti-virus and spyware check. But if that's not possible or turns up nothing, then the next best thing is to use the built-in Windows Restore function.

And we always recommend that users have backups of their most precious data before anything bad happens and certainly before trying anything like a system restore.

We're using the standard advice from Microsoft knowledgebase here for the help. And they differ a bit on whether your PC's Window program will even start-up.

If Windows XP starts
  1. Log on to Windows as Administrator.
  2. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click System Restore. System Restore starts.
  3. On the Welcome to System Restore page, click Restore my computer to an earlier time (if it is not already selected), and then click Next.
  4. On the Select a Restore Point page, click the most recent system checkpoint in the On this list, click a restore point list, and then click Next. A System Restore message may appear that lists configuration changes that System Restore will make. Click OK.
  5. On the Confirm Restore Point Selection page, click Next. System Restore restores the previous Windows XP configuration, and then restarts the computer.
  6. Log on to the computer as Administrator. The System Restore Restoration Complete page appears.
  7. Click OK.

If Windows will not start, do this to restore:
  1. Restart your computer, and then press F8 during the initial startup to start your computer in Safe Mode with a command prompt.
    For additional information about the Safe mode with a command prompt, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base: 315222 (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315222/) A description of the Safe mode boot options in Windows XP
  2. Log on to your computer with an administrator account or with an account that has administrator credentials.
  3. Type the following command at a command prompt, and then press ENTER: %systemroot%\system32\restore\rstrui.exe
  4. Follow the instructions that appear on the screen to restore your computer to an earlier state.
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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Don't Let Your PC Catch a Virus

Personal Computer Virus Spyware MalwareMost PC problems stem from viruses and malware. But both can be easily prevented by safe computing practices and up-to-date software.

Many new PCs come with free trial versions from McAfee or Norton. And there's nothing wrong with using either of those solutions.

However, many users forget to renew their subscriptions or think that bad things will never happen to them online.

Wrong.

But there are other options out there that can cost less. For anti-virus protection, users should check out the free version of AVG, (http://free.grisoft.com/) This is a free version with basic protection and no technical support. But it's good and the price is right. AVG also offers free and paid versions of Anti-Spy software.

For spyware/malware, PC users should check out the free Windows Defender software from Microsoft.
Windows Defender is a free program that helps protect your computer against pop-ups, slow performance, and security threats caused by spyware and other unwanted software. It features Real-Time Protection, a monitoring system that recommends actions against spyware when it's detected and minimizes interruptions and helps you stay productive.
It's very nice of Microsoft, after developing operating systems that are exploitable, to offer free software to try to fix the problem.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Rumor Has It

snopes urban legend runor has itForwarded emails are the bane of the internet.

Anybody who has an email account has received at least one or maybe even 100 or 1,000 of them from family and friends.

Dire emails warning of an impending disaster. Or the latest urban legend that will affect your life if you don't heed the warning in the email. Whatever the case, these emails can be a real menace.

But before you forward that email on to your contact list, spend a moment over at Snopes.com.

Your family and friends will certainly thank you if you do.

The site is the most complete source of urban legends on the net. Check out the hottest and latest legends circulating the net and find out if they are true or now. Or use the search feature to discover an older rumor.


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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Firefox is Foxy and Free

Firefox browserBack in the olden days of the web browsing. There was only one real choice for web browsing and that was Netscape Navigator.

But Microsoft's bundled and free Internet Explorer all but killed the Netscape empire.

But like the mythical phoenix, Netscape Navigator legacy continues as Firefox.

Firefox is an open-source application that offers improved performance, functionality and security compared to the normal Internet Explorer usually preloaded on new PCs.

With features like Improved Tab Browsing; Spell Checking; Search Suggestions; Session Restore and Integrated Search, Firefox is a robust up-to-date application for surfing the web.

To get Firefox for your PC, visit: http://www.getfirefox.com

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Thunderbird to the Rescue

Mozilla Thunderbird EmailLooking for an alternative to Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express as a mail client for your PC?

An open-source project, Thunderbird, may be your best answer. And the best part is that it's Free!

Thunderbird is a full-feature email client that can be download and used for free. Latest features include "Advanced Folder Views"; "Message Tagging"; and "Improved Search".

Even if you use a web-based email like Gmail, Thunderbird can be very useful. Its text editor offers more features than the basic Google Mail. And by using the newer IMAP mail protocol, you can configure Thunderbird to access your online account without endlessly duplicating mail.

To download Thunderbird, visit http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/thunderbird/

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Monday, April 7, 2008

OpenOffice Offers Software Suite for Free

OpenOffice Microsoft Word, Excel PowerPointCan an office productivity suite that competes with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint really be free?

Yes, when it's open-source. That means that many people around the world work on the software and license it to for the public to use.

OpenOffice.org 2 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages.

It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose. This means you may use it for any purpose - domestic, commercial, educational, public administration. You may install it on as many computers as you like. You may make copies and give them away to family, friends, students, employees - anyone you like.

What could be cooler than that?

To download OpenOffice and install on your PC, visit http://www.openoffice.org.

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Let's Go Way Back!

Internet Archive WayBack MachineHave you ever re-visited a site only to get a "Error 404" because the page is no longer available?

Normally, you'd be out of luck. But a cool site called the Internet Archive WayBack Machine can often help to let you view the page you were looking for.

Just visit the site, http://www.archive.org/, and enter the URL of the site or page you were looking to review. You'll see that most pages are indexed at various times throughout the year. So pick your month and year and you'll see what was on the apge at that time.

The WayBack Machine has captured and indexed billions of webpages since it was started over 10 years ago.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Fly With Google

Google Earth added a special "Easter Egg" surprise in the software.

The software now has a Flight Simulator built in that allows you to fly around the terrain.

To use this fun new feature:

  1. Download the latest version of Google Earth HERE.
  2. Once you have GE running, enter the special secret key commands: Ctrl+Alt+A
  3. You'll see this screen where you can choose between an F16 or SR22. You can also choose to take-off from an airport around the world or from your current location in Google Earth:
Google Earth Flight Simulator Popup Screen Easter Egg



















4. Before you take off, check out the list of controls HERE.
5. Using a joystick is better but you can still fly around with just a keyboard and mouse.
6. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sync with Google Calendar

Google Calendar SyncYou can now sync your Microsoft Outlook calendar the Google calendar.

This new service lets you keep in sync with your desktop calendar and online calendar. You can control the flow the information and set the sync schedule as well:

To begin using Google Calendar Sync, do the following:

  1. Download the application from Google: http://dl.google.com/googlecalendarsync/GoogleCalendarSync_Installer.exe
  2. Once a dialog box appears, click "Save File." The download should open automatically. If it doesn't, manually open the download from your browser's download window.
  3. Click "OK" to confirm that you're aware this is an executable file.
  4. Read through the Google Calendar Sync Terms of Service, and click "I Agree."
  5. Continue to follow through the Installation Options and click "Install" to finish the set-up process.

Google now has more information posted online at HERE.

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