Tag Archives: software

Speed Reading

A few months ago my company brought in a consultant to teach speed reading. Our CEO is a big believer in it. Now I had heard about people reading a book in a couple of hours. I had seen people passing their finger over pages and saying they were reading a page every 10 seconds. I had always been skeptical, or passed it off as they were savants who had a special trait for speed reading.

But now I am a believer. The trainer took us through a number of exercises to show us that we read slow, basically because we were taught to read slow. No one is ever taught to speed read. It is fascinating to see how both your reading speed and comprehension can increase. The course lasted about 6 hours. In the last 2 hours of the course, I read the Old Man and the Sea from cover to cover and got about half way through the biography of Lance Armstrong.

There are a couple of tools that you can use to help increase your reading speed.


Zap Reader

Tags: , , spreeder, zap reader

Windows Vista

About a month ago Release Candidate 1 (RC1) came out. Then about a week ago RC2 was out and available for a short time to the general public. This post will review Vista and talk about some of the new features.

Unfortunately if you want to try Windows Vista, you will have to settle for RC1 which is available to download here. The first thing you should do, before you install Windows Vista is run the compatibility program to see if you have enough computing power. You can download the program from here. Continue reading Windows Vista

Staying Organized with Microsoft Outlook Using Archives

If you have been using Outlook for awhile and have not been archiving, then take a look over your shoulder. That’s that IT person getting ready to delete messages in your InBox because you have gone over the limit… again!

There is an automated way to set up your Outlook to reduce your InBox size, and at the same time, not lose any email messages.

The first step is to create local Archive folders. I chose to create a folder per year to keep track of old emails. You should also create the folders in My Documents so they will follow you when you upgrade systems. For example I have created yearly Archive folders in \my documents\outlook\200X archive.pst.

To create these folders, select Tools—Options—Other tab—Auto Archive. You should see the Window below:

Then hit the Browse… button to get to the Window below. Go to My Documents. Once there select the yellow folder button near the top right to create a new folder, in my case I created Outlook. Create several folders within Outlook, if needed.

The last step is to select the folder you just created as your default archive folder. In my case that would be 2006 Archive.pst. Then exit by selecting OK.

The next step is making these folders visible, so you can access them for searching. To do this you select File—Open—Outlook data file…

If this is the first time you are Archiving, then you may want to split up your InBox into multiple folders. To do this select your InBox, then select File—Archive from the main menu.

From here you can divide up your InBox. In my case, using years, I would repeat this step, entering 1/1/2003, then 1/1/2004 etc, in the Archive items older than: box and selecting the appropriate Archive folder using the Browse…button for each year.

The last pointer I wanted to give was that you can have different Archive properties for each folder in you InBox. Let’s say you had a folder that was daily reports and there was no need to keep these for 3 months. You decided to keep them for 2 months, or less. You can right-click on the folder, select Properties—AutoArchive and adjust the time as per below.

The only maintenance that is required going forward, it to create a new folder each year (or as often as you choose) and set the default to this folder using step 1.

Qumana Blog Editor

For the past couple of months I have been using a blog editor from Qumana. Blog editors allow you to work offline creating posts in a WYSIWYG environment. Qumana is very easy to use and has some nice added features that I will discuss below.

The software will work with most blog software. Whether it is hosted by the blog provider, or if you have your own provider using blogging software, Qumana will recognize most applications during the installation. I had a minor issue on my laptop, where Qumana would not recognize the “end point” or the version of blogging software I was using. Their tech support asked what version of Java I was using. Turns out I had an old version of the Java runtime. Once I upgraded, everything went smoothly.

With the latest beta update, they have made it even easier to add images to posts. Once you hit the add image button, you get the following window. You select how you want the image aligned, then upload it from you PC and it drops right into your post.

The posting editor above is easy to use. It has all the standard formatting options. The software picked up on my WordPress categories; there on the right. If you notice the 2 green buttons, they offer some added functionality.

The Insert Tags button allows you to list multiple Technorati tags within your post. Technorati is a blog specific tag search engine. In most software, you have to get into writing HTML code to have the tags appear in your post and have them linked back to Technorati properly. In Qumana, you simply open the dialogue box above and start typing.

The other button is Insert Ad. This allows you to \’monetize\’ your blog. That means you can make money from your posts. Similar to Google adsense, Q-Ads as they\’re called; allow you to put advertisements in your blog based on content. When someone clicks on the ad, you get paid.

Last but not least, Qumana allows you to future date your posts. You may ask yourself, “why would anyone want to do that?” Think about vacations. If you don\’t keep up with new and interesting posts, you will see a decline in your readership. So before you go on vacation, you can sit down and \’powerpost\’ 7 entries and schedule them to appear 1 a day for the next 7 days. No one will even know you were away. Below is the highlighted area for picking the date of each post.

As mentioned above, this review is on their beta product. They have had regular updates, and their tech support have been very responsive. If you are a regular blogger, I would highly recommend taking a look at this software.

Snagit Image Capture

I was asked what I use to capture some of the images on my Blog posts. I use TechSmith’s Snagit software.

 It has several effects that help with the image capture. The drop shadow effect I use on almost all of my images as it gives that 3D effect. It has a wide range of capture options. Including full screen, window or selected area. It also works on web pages and video.

Online Web Applications I Use

I have noticed that more and more I am turning to online applications as opposed to desktop applications. As I work on 3 different computers; work, home and notebook, it just makes things much easier. There is no synchronization required, everything is just there when you open it and you can start where you left off. Here are some of the applications I use to keep myself organized.

First there is 2Go SyncIT. This is a small application that runs in your system tray. It automatically will synchronize your Bookmarks in real time as you add or delete them. This is one of those amazing applications that you never know is there and simply works all the time. I posted about it a couple of months ago. They also have some other great features that saved my butt once. Somehow my favorites folder got corrupted and I lost all of my bookmarks. The downside of having all your bookmarks synchronized is that if you lose them all on one PC, you lose them on all PCs. Now I don’t know about you, but my favorites have evolved over the past 5+ years. I emailed 2Go and asked if there was some way for me to retrieve my bookmarks; all 700+ of them. Turns out that one of the standard features of the product is that it keeps all deleted bookmarks from the last 30 days. I just went into their utilities and restored all of my bookmarks.

Next is keeping track of To Do’s. For simple lists I use Ta-da. This simple application allows me to keep multiple lists. I can add the different todo lists to my Links folder in my bookmarks. I also did a post on this. This allows quick access from any computer when the thought strikes me. I use this for personal todo’s for work around the house (this list is shared with my wife…not sure that was a good idea 🙂 and for blog topics. Since I use the SyncIT program above, when I add a todo list on one computer, it is replicated on all of my computers.

Another new offering in this simple todo list application is WallNote. This application is both an online app. and a desktop app. at the same time. What it does is reads your todo list online and keeps a list on your desktop wallpaper.

Ta-da is great for simple todo lists. For lists that are a little more complicated there is activecollab. This is an open source, on line mini-project manager.

One of the other online apps that I have been using is Bloglines for my RSS feeds. As you can see in my toolbar above I have 2 links in my bookmarks. One is for adding a new feed to Bloglines and the other is for reading my feeds. Bloglines also has some other features for bloggers. if you notice down the right side of my blog, there is a section called Blogroll. This lists all of the feeds that I read. Bloglines makes it easy to quickly scan a large number of feeds. As it is an online app. when I read a post on one computer, it is flagged as read. So when I pull up my list at home, I only see new posts.

One of the new online apps. I am going to try is the new meebo online instant messenger. Everyone knows about instant messengers. Yahoo, MSN, AOL all have their own version. With meebo, you can login to all 3 at the same time and never have to install any software on your computer. This is great for users who work at companies who have locked down their systems, or Internet Cafes.