Category Archives: productivity

Bike Hoist

This device is on the low end of the technology spectrum. However, I have found these bike hoists to be great for storing bikes in the garage. It keeps them out of the way until you need them. It is simple enough to use. Our 10 year old can easily get her bike down. Best of all, no more dents in the cars due to bikes falling over.

I got mine on eBay. Just search under Bike Hoist. There are 3-4 places to get them. I think it worked out to about $35 each with currency and duty.

Favorite sites for organization

One of the areas of interest for me is organization. There are so many tools out there that allow you to keep track of things. Some of my favorite sites to find out about these are Lifehacker and 43 folders. Both of these sites have all sorts of suggestions on making life easier. (take anything posted on April 1st with a grain of salt, as it was April Fools day).

I have an ongoing search for the perfect project tracker. At the present time I am using Microsoft’s OneNote. What it lacks in features, it makes up for in simplicity. The key thing about OneNote is that it allows me to easily make a list in outline format. This is how I think. Major bullets divided into smaller actions. The one feature that is lacking would be a way of assigning a bullet to a person and then being able to summarize a person’s list of actions. Maybe they’ll add that to Office 2007.

A newer site that is getting a lot of attention is 30 boxes. This site is a online calendar application. It uses some newer technology called Ajax to give the user a better experience on the Web. This site is on the list of Web 2.0 sites. Check back soon for my posts about Web 2.0.

Lookout for Outlook

Along with 2Go SyncIt that I talked about in a previous post. Another one of my favorite utilities is Lookout for Outlook. It is an add in for MS Outlook that loads into the menu bar. It is the same a the Find function, but far faster. It actually indexes every word of every email as it is added. The first time you run the software it could take 15-20 minutes to index everything. But that is a one time occurance. After that it indexes on the fly. What is great about it is the speed. Just this morning someone asked me about a document I had sent them in Sept. ’05. I simply typed in one key word and had the results back in under 3 seconds. This product is so good, that Microsoft actually bought them to incorporate into future versions of Office.

UPDATE: Still available for download.

U3 for USB

I recently picked up one of those USB memory sticks. However, this one had the new U3 standard included. U3 allows you to run applications from the memory stick. There are several companies that are supporting this standard. McAfee, Skype, Trillian, Open Office, Firefox and many others. It’s a rather interesting concept. As more and more people want to take their data with them this idea could be promising. Do you take your 4 pound laptop with you or your 2 ounce memory stick? The price of these memory sticks is dropping quickly. I have seen 1GB for less than $50. Capacities have increased to 8 GB. When you sit down at a computer and plug in your U3 stick, you get a launcher window, similar to Windows Start menu. It allows you to run and save all your data on the memory stick. When you’re ready to move on, you simply hit the eject button on the menu and all of your data is saved on the stick. There is full password protection available.

Blue Tooth, Hands Free rear view mirror

This falls under the “just gotta have it” category of gadgets. ModooFree has designed several models of rear view mirrors with varying levels of hands free features for cell phone users. Their top of the line has Bluetooth, so you can leave the cell phone in your pocket and still take calls. It has caller ID that projects onto the rear view mirror. And in the interests of safety, so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road, it will speak the incoming phone number. And just when you think they have it all…they added a remote sensor that you attach to your bumper. When you back up it will show you in the mirror how far away you are from an object. How cool is that? Installation is simple, just clips over you existing mirror.

How to Sync your bookmarks on multiple PCs

How many times has this happened to you? Someone you know finds a good web site and sends you an email with the link. You want to add it to your favorites. Problem is, you have your PC at work, your notebook that you travel with and then there is that PC (or PCs) at home. If it’s a good website you would want it on all of those PCs. So you send yourself and email, then go to each PC and open up the email and copy the web site into your favorites. What a pain!

Now there is a simpler innovation. 2Go SyncIt. You download the utility from here. The first time you install it on a PC, you will be asked to set up an account or login. Once you install it on your PCs. Any change you make on one PC, is automatically updated on every PC you have the software installed on.

One of the bonuses of this software I discoverd a few weeks ago. I was doing some house cleaning and accidentally erased about 80% of my bookmarks. An email to 2Go got a response within a couple of hours that showed me how to restore all the bookmarks. It seems they hold on to any deletions for 30 days.

How to stay informed with Desktop Sidebar

Many people ask me how do I know so much about gadgets, or what is going on in the world of technology. It is really quite simple. I don’t spend hours surfing for information. I use something called RSS which stands for Really Simple Syndication. Basically it is a standard to feed news headlines to you. There are a multitude of RSS readers out there. Some website home pages, such as MSN and Yahoo now allow you to add RSS feeds to your home page. My favorite tool is Desktop Sidebar. This great little tool has a large number of “panels”. I choose to use the News, Weather and Stock panels. The news panel is the RSS reader. The panel sits at the side of your Windows desktop and scrolls through the headlines from the RSS links you have chosen. When you mouse over a headline, a small window opens with the summary of the article. If you want to see the actual web page you simply click on the headline and you open the web page. I personally like the newspaper function. You click on this button at the top of the news panel and it shows every headline for every news item you are linked to. In a matter of 10 minutes I can be up to date on what is going on for the day. I will spend more details on where to get the RSS feeds on future posts.