Stu's Techno Geek page

IT Tips,Tricks,News and other neat thoughts to help make life easier for Small Businesses

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Toe-may-toe, Toe-mah-toe or is it just plain Ketchup

There is a quick testover at that will show you a breakdown of your American Dialect. Here are my results

Your Linguistic Profile:

65% General American English

20% Upper Midwestern

10% Yankee

5% Dixie

0% Midwestern

New input innovations for the brave and willing

Tired of the same old mouse and keyboard? Want something new? Bill O'brien over at Desktop Pipeline has an article just for you.

Supercharge Your Pointing, Clicking, And Tapping
"Keyboards and mice are SO last year. There are a ton of new, cool, innovative devices for delivering input to your PC."
Be the first on your block to have one.

Getting Things Done With Blinksale!

To-done has a great article about a simple Invoicing App. Getting Things Done With Blinksale!:
"Blinksale is perfect for anyone who needs to invoice customers and clients for services or products sold. As a design company, we created Blinksale with professional service industries in mind. Additionally, with time-billing invoices and product invoices, Blinksale is an excellent choice for attorneys, accountants, IT professionals, software developers, journalists, contractors, engineers, architects, videographers, and more. Basically, if you need to send invoices, Blinksale can work for you."

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Working With The Smart Office Jerk, Or The Nice Office Dunce?

Working With The Smart Office Jerk, Or The Nice Office Dunce?: "Apparently, a new study has found that most people would much rather work with a likable, but less-skilled co-worker than a smart and competent jerk. " Techdirt had conducted thier own unscientific study also.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Virtual Desktop Managers for PC and MAC

There are now some cool Powertoys for both the PC and the MAC.

The Virtual Desktop Manager for Windows creates 4 desktops you can run different programs on and switch between. It comes in Microsoft's Power Toys for WinXP.

Rich Wareham has developed on for the MAC OS 10.3 or greater. Download it here.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Catch up on Productivity, The 43 Folder Shortlist

The creator of 43 Folders has put together a shortlist of posts from his site from over the last 10 months on Productivity. So now you can read the ones you have put down on your GTD list and cross it off.

43 Folders: Productivity tarbabies and dark nights of the geek soul

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Google Earth, Google Cool

Stop Reding this post and Download this NOW. Google Earth is for those of us who are directionally impared. This is the coolest free app for mapping that you will see. It not only shows you your route but you can pan and tilt to see how it would look if you were going down the road. Some large cities even have 3D buildings so you can go by landmarks.

Becareful of doing this at work, you just might play with it for hours zooming around the world.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

WinXP Backup utility hack to use recordable optical media

Greg Shultz over at TechRepublic has posted a great workaround to the limitation of Windows XP's Backup Utility.
Get Windows XP's Backup utility to use recordable optical media:
"Learn a workaround that will allow you to indirectly make Windows XP's Backup utility use recordable optical media as a backup destination. Be sure to notice that the author points out that you need to ensure your backup file fits on one CD. "

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Firefox Tip: Saving Multimedia Files from the Web

Check out Bret Taylor's Inner Geek article about saving just about ANY multimedia file to your local machine. The exception are files that are streamed. Very Cool.

Quick Tip: Create a new Tab in Firefox

Here it is down and dirty, three ways of opening a new browsing tab in Firefox:

1. Select "File" - "New Tab".
2. Press CONTROL-T.
3. Double-click an empty area in the tab bar.

Couldn't get any easier huh? For more Tips using Firefox Click here for Mozilla's offical Tip and Trick page

IM In The Enterprise

Mike DeMaria's Desktop Pipeline article Securing Your IM Systems shows how to keep your network secure, whether your IM usage is public or private. Which is important because of the recent trend of IM in the corporate field. Antone Gonsalves's article Free IM Is Hard To Beat In The Enterprise shows that
"Instant messaging, which has taken the enterprise by storm in North America, is growing steadily in the rest of world, with 80 percent of companies worldwide expected to use either public or private IM networks by 2008, a market-research firm said Friday."

If you haven't prepared yet, now is the time.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Fair Evaluations

Bert Web's has an excellent article about Job Evaluaitons over at Open Loops That takes both sides of the Eval into account.
Quote:"Every year, most employees go through some sort of evaluation process. For the employer, this involves going through the files to retrieve all the notes, memos, meeting notes, and other anecdotal information on which to base the evaluation. Unfortunately, in the heat of the daily battles, most employers find it difficult to keep the files up-to-date with accurate information about what workers are doing. "

Excel is extremely helpful with this as the "tracking form" he mentions in the article. Another method that can be a bit more complex but if used right very informative is Outlook Tasks. Assigning the task to the individual gives both sides an open line of comminicating and updating progress if FTF contact is not possible for lengths of time. It also lets the subordinate update without feeling micro managed.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

E-mail Space, The Reality

Its 9 o’clock on a Monday morning and you need to reply to an important e-mail from your boss and you see an e-mail from “System Administrator” telling you that you are over your mailbox limit. You try to reply and you can’t. Panic comes over you as you realize that this will effect your review AAAARRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!

Alright, so it’s a bit over dramatic. Here’s reality. You only have so much room on the servers for e-mail. Your IT staff also realizes that our business requires you to keep detailed records of correspondence with clients and vendors. We understand, really we do. At my company we allow each user to be able to keep an incredible amount of e-mail both on the server and off. A search on the internet shows that most companies allow between 10 and 50 MB of data on the servers. We allow 400 MB on the server AND allow space on the network shares for the archive folders to grow to approximately 250MB before they are asked to have it placed on CD.

Now for some IT math. Don’t worry there won’t be any tests. An average e-mail without an attachment is approximately 5kb. There are 1000 kb to a megabyte (MB). That means that there are 200 e-mails per MB. Most users then would be able to have between 2,000 and 10,000 e-mails (At 400 MB of space you have the ability to have approximately 80,000 e-mails) inside your mailbox. That is a lot of mail for the most hardcore addict.

I know, I know. You don’t have that many e-mails and you are still out of space. Well there is another factor. Attachments. These files are counted in your use of space. So if you have 10 emails that have 10 MB worth of attachments, guess what, you just used 100 MB of space with only 10 e-mails.

“What can I do?” Ah yes, what can you do……………

1. Delete, Delete, Delete. If you don’t need it, get rid of it. Be honest with yourself. You don’t really need that joke that was sent by your mom from last Christmas. Go through ALL of your folders. This includes Sent Items. Do this on a weekly basis. If you do it regularly you will be surprised how much easier it is to keep the size down.

2. Duplicates are Redundant. Instead of copying everybody on your team and each of you keeping a copy, just have one copy besides the one in your sent items. Copy your team e-mail address instead of individual users if it really needs to be kept for the whole team.

3. Attachments KILL. We all get ‘em, we all need ‘em, what do we do with ‘em? Here is what you do. Save the attachment to a team shared drive and remove it from the e-mail. You shouldn’t work from the attachment while in Outlook anyway.

4. CD’s aren’t just for Breakfast anymore. More and more machines are coming with a CDRW as standard equipment. Break down your Auto-archive folder or Personal Folders (.pst file) into logical time periods as different files and burn the old data to CD. Use more than one file at a time if you need to, they don’t cost anything. Now that your data is in a logical time order, let ‘em burn baby, let ‘em burn. You can always pull it back off of CD if you need to get to it.

With a little diligence you will never have to worry about those nasty warnings again.

Your moment of ZEN: The Beginner’s Mind

Douglas Johnston over at "A million monkeys typing" has an intersting approach to organization and GTD.

The Beginner’s Mind:
"Often we must come full circle –to return to the very beginning– in the efforts to renew ourselves. To do this, the years of rubbish accumulating in our minds need to be emptied periodically, lest we find ourselves with little room to move and breathe."

Quick and Easy: Unzipping what's a .ZIP file has a quick and easy to understand explination of what exactly what the .zip file extension is.

ZIP File Format - File Extensions
Zip archives defined, including how they are created and unpacked.

Here are some of the most common "archiving" applications.

Info-Zip, a freeware ZIP/UNZIP software package that works on multiple platforms.

PKWARE, the creator of the ZIP file format.

WinZip, about the most popular application for Windows.

Malektips also has some WinZip tips thatcan be found here.

Does OS matter anymore for Web security?

Does OS matter anymore for security? by ZDNet's George Ou

Whenever I've touched on the sensitive topic of Linux vs. Windows or Apache vs. Microsoft IIS security, I expected the usual flame treatment and nasty name calling to fly. It's usually taken as gospel in many IT circles to assume that Windows Security is an oxymoron; anyone who dares to suggest using Microsoft IIS 6.0 for a [...]

"...At the end of the zone-h report for 2003-2004, the author concludes...that the argument about which OS is more secure is totally irrelevant since most modern exploits are against applications and not the operating system hosting them."

Pew Internet & American Life Project Report: Spyware Report

Pew Internet & American Life Project Report: Spyware Report: "Spyware and the threat of unwanted programs being secretly loaded onto computers are becoming serious threats online. Nine out of ten internet users say they have adjusted their online behavior out of fear of falling victim to software intrusions. Unfortunately, many internet users’ fears are grounded in experience - 43% of internet users, or about 59 million American adults, say they have had spyware or adware on their home computer. Although most do not know the source of their woes, 68% of home internet users, or about 93 million American adults, have experienced at least one computer problem in the past year that are consistent with problems caused by spyware or viruses."

Whole report in PDF Here

How To Get Back On Track After Time Off

Here are some great tips about taking time off and what to do when you get back. Especially "Do not check your e-mail or take work related calls while away unless you absolutely have to."

Must Remember, Must Remember, Must remember, I know I'll send myself an e-mail :)

Organizing that first morning back is the key. Make a quick priority list and stick to it.

How To Get Back On Track After Time Off

Thanks Keith

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Two Utiliies for the Keyboard Minded

Check out these two utilities that enable you to work smarter by launching everything from Apps to Websites from a floating Textbox on your desktop.

In this corner wearing the red trunks is Bayden Systems - SlickRun.
Tommy Williams has posted some interesting benefits of Slick Run.

And wearing the Blue trunks is ActiveWord Systems, Inc's Active Words
Marjolein Hoekstra has some Active words tips

Update: Check out this site dedicated to Active Words

And the winner is.........

Stereotyping Your Office

Bert Webb over at OpenLoops recently posted about a Psychology Today article from two Texas researchers regarding what your desk says about you to your co-workers called Stereotyping Your Office. Check it out and see what YOU are saying.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

An ounce of prevention

PCPitstop is an internet based "PC Health" and Spyware service. It has an online system checker that is free to use. The site also lists the Top 25 Spyware and Adware infectors in thier Spyware Information Center .

Remember Ben's wise words,

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Attack Of The PDF Clones

Adobe's PDF's are becomming more and more common. Just about all desktops have the Acrobat Reader installed but creating PDF files are another story. Steve Schwartz over at Desktop Pipeline has a review of cost effective alternitives to Adobe Acrobat for creating PDF files. Desktop Pipeline | Review: Attack Of The PDF Clones

Monday, July 04, 2005

Spam - Not in the Can

We all get it, we all hate it , what can we do to stop it? Short answer: You can't stop it all, and be acessable to your customers. There are some precautions that you can take. is a web based e-mail provider and they have some tips for reducing the amount of spam you recieve in the article Spam Prevention Tips for Small Businesses. posted
"If you are buried in SPAM then you're not alone. It's been suggested
that as much as 50% to 75% of the e-mail traffic on any given day is
SPAM. Reading through SPAM is a waste of your time and it subjects you
to potential viruses, trojan horses, and sexual material which can be
quite offensive. Here are some tips on how to win the SPAM war:"
Eight Quick Tips For Stopping SPAM: Technology Info

Friday, July 01, 2005

Novice Series - Address Spoofing

This is the second installment in a series of articles for the more novice of users.

Address Spoofing

Internet viruses are usually spread through e-mail, as we have all seen.

How does it know where to go? One of the things recent viruses have been written to do is use the infected person’s Contact list or Personal Address Book to perpetuate itself. It will go through the list and e-mail itself out “as another person”. It puts the e-mail address found in the Contact List as the sender address. This is called “spoofing”.

The result of this lovely practice is that someone who was not infected is being used to erroneously spread a virus. The infected person may not even know that they have been infected because their address was never used.

On the other hand, the real victim is the person whose address was spoofed. They get a slew of rejection notices, Virus alerts, System Administrator Nasty-grams. Here’s the sad part. There really isn’t a way to find out who was infected. Think of all the people you have in your Contact List. How many people have you? The only thing we can hope for is that the pre-adolescents that are writing these things get grounded from computer use for a while so we can all have a break.

Here is a little story (Think grade school filmstrip):

Bob is a user. Bob doesn’t update his anti-virus software frequently. Bob also does not look very closely at who sends him e-mail and opens everything he gets without paying attention.

Bob opens an e-mail attachment from someone he doesn’t know.

He now has a virus. Poor Bob.

Mr. Virus goes through Bob’s contact list and Finds Julie’s name.

Mr. Virus takes Julie’s address and sends out e-mails as Julie.

Oh, No.

Julie checks her e-mail and has 200 messages saying that she has sent out a virus. Julie is confused, she doesn’t know these people.

Poor Julie.

If only Bob had paid attention to the warning send out by Help Desk.

Receiving those rejected message e-mails doesn't necessarily mean that YOU are infected, so don't despair. Just delete them.

Novice Series - What is Alert.TXT and why is attached to this e-mail???

This is a very common question that has been asked time and time again. Well, here’s the answer.

As you know, viruses are rampant on the internet. Most viruses are spread through the use of e-mail and attachments. Most people currently have anti-virus software on all of the desktops, File Servers and on their Exchange Server (E-mail Server). ALL files going into or out through e-mail get scanned. If the anti-virus software detects a virus or a file type that has been used for spreading viruses you “block” it from going out or in. This blocking includes a quarantine area where you can isolate potentially harmful files.

When an attachment gets quarantined, the software will replace the attachment that was originally there with a text message (ALERT.TXT) that contains a reference number. This reference number is referred to as a “Ticket Number”. It is a reference to where the attachment was quarantined. In this way, administrators can quickly locate the original attachment.

If the attachment is legitimate, you can use this number to get the file from the E-mail administrator or Help desk and forward it to the proper person.

ALERT.TXT FILES ARE NOT VIRUSES. They originate from an Exchange Server or an outside Mail Server letting you know WHAT was removed, WHY it was removed.

Addicted to E-Mail? You're Not Alone

Like most businesses e-mail has become one of the most important aspects in even the smallest business. Internetnews's article
Addicted to E-Mail? You're Not Alone: "America Online and Opinion Research Corporation surveyed 4,012
respondents in 20 U.S. cities to gauge the degree to which Americans obsess over e-mail. According to the results of the E-Mail Addiction survey, released today, e-mail users depend on e-mail as much as the phone for communication."

Not to mention, "As many as 77 percent of respondents to the survey said they have more than one e-mail account. For 41 percent, morning coffee can wait, but not e-mail; accessing e-mail is the first thing they do in the morning." Source: Cnet

The top 10 markets that can't live without their e-mail:

1. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
2. San Francisco
3. Philadelphia
4. New York
5. Houston
6. Washington, D.C.
7. Boston
8. Dallas-Ft. Worth
9. Chicago
10. Los Angeles

Source: AOL

Mapping the Mind for Reviews

Writting reviews can be one long and labor intensive task even with the smallest number of employees. Dwayne Malencon over at GenuineCuriosity has an interesting idea on how to organize your thoughts to map the process out for your employees. He uses a template and MindManager software to get the job done.

Humor is good for the Soul

This is a great link. You have to check it out if you or someone you know is pummeled by Chain-o-gram e-mails. I have always wondered about how or why. Now I have the reassurance needed to delete them without looking.
Chain e-mail Support Group meeting
I got this from Marc's Outlook on Productivity during some research I am doing.
Thanks Marc !!!

Ergonomics 101

Ever wonder why your eyes hurt if you are at your PC for a long time? How about your neck? The ergonomics of sitting at your Pc have a lot to do with it. I found a great series of articles from Darrell Norton called Ergonomics 101 Most are quick reads. Sometimes it's the little things that help.

New Site

Welcome to my new site for IT and small business news, ideas and other neat stuff.

Stay tuned for more..........