Saturday, July 30, 2005

Google Earth – Outstanding!

Earlier today I downloaded Google Earth and Matthew (my 11 year old) and myself have been running it through its paces over the last hour or so. Google Earth is a program that allows you to easily view images of different areas of the planet, zoom in on towns or cities, search for specific location such as schools and restaurants, get driving directions and a host of other data and even bookmark certain places so you can easily return.

Google Earth uses satellite and aerial images combined with maps and Google’s exceptional search capabilities to “put the world's geographic information at your fingertips.”

This really is an awesome piece of software! It is educational as well as a lot of fun.

Please note that Google Earth may not run properly on older computers. Make sure you read the system requirements to find out if your machine is up to the job before you download the program.

My little corner of the planet:

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Personalized Google Homepage Update

Google's Personal Home Page feature has recently been updated. There are now new ways to customize the content of your page. A side bar feature lets you easily choose content to include and you can rearrange the content display simply by dragging and dropping.

You can preview your Gmail messages right on the home page, save bookmarks and add feeds to a variety of news and information sources. One of the best new features is the ability to create your own sections by adding feeds in the field provided.

To personalize your Google Homepage, you need to have a Google Account. If you already use Gmail or another Google service you can use the same login details.

In the past, I’ve generally used a blank page as my default browser home page, but I've now switched over to the new personal Google. The page is intuitive to use, uncluttered, loads fast, and provides useful content.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Simple Notepad Snippet Store

When I'm working on my computer, I often need to temporarily store a snippet of information such as a web link, a reference to another document or just a reminder to myself to check into something later. There are a number of ways such a "snippet store" can be implemented, including the use of "Sticky Note" programs, some of which are quite sophisticated.

However, if you like to keep things simple, you can use Windows Notepad to create a quite functional snippet store.

Here’s how:

1. Open a new Windows Notepad document, name it “snippit.txt” (or whatever you like) and save it to your hard drive.

2. Locate the file and create a shortcut to it on your desktop.

3. Right-click the shortcut on your desktop and select "Properties". Use the "Properties" dialog to select a new icon for the shortcut and give it a suitable name.

4.Drag the shortcut to your Quick Launch bar.

Now, any time you want to rapidly store some information, you can simply click the snippet icon on the Quick Launch bar and add your snippet. Naturally, you can use the same procedure with other applications such as a word processor if you want more advanced formatting options. However, the advantage of using a Notepad file is that it will load very quickly and will only consume a small amount of your computer's available resources.

You can even "network enable" your Notepad snippet store. I've saved my snippet file in a folder that is accessible from either of my networked computers. Both machines have Quick Launch shortcuts to this file with identical icons. Thus, regardless of which machine I'm working on, I can save my snippets in the same file for future reference.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

W3C Validation Service

To validate your HTML, XHTML or CSS documents you can use the online validation service provided by the The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

This is a free service that checks HTML, XHTML and CSS documents for conformance to W3C Recommendations and other standards. The validator will check the file and flag any errors it discovers.

You can check files that are already online as well as files on your

Once you have created files that validate correctly, you can display the
"Valid HTML", Valid XHTML" or "Valid CSS" icons on you website.

Monday, July 18, 2005

WinAlarm – Simple Reminder Program

WinAlarm is an elegant little program that can be configured to remind you of upcoming events such as meetings, birthdays and bill due dates. The program reminds you about a specified event by sounding an alarm and popping up a window with the reminder details. Although WinAlarm is very simple to use, it is quite versatile and provides a number of configuration options, including repeat reminders, snooze feature, the ability to change the alarm sound and pop-up graphics and multiple language choices.

If you are after a simple reminder program without the overhead of a fully-fledged personal information manager, then this little app is well worth checking out.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Hoax-Slayer Forums

Ok, so this is a shameless plug..what can I say? (grin)

I've recently set up an online forum for the Hoax-Slayer website, and I'm now on a bit of a recruitment drive.

The forums will provide a place to discuss scams, hoaxes and a lot more. Although the primary focus is scams and hoaxes, there is plenty of room for other topic areas as well, including software discussion, computer help and the like.

My fellow administrator, Jean, and myself are open to suggestions and looking to get the forums up and running, so any ideas you have will be most welcome!

I hope that the forums will grow into an active community and represent a worthwhile addition to the Hoax-Slayer website. Please help us build an informative and friendly hoax and scam busting online community.

Naturally, the forums are completely free to join, although registration is required to weed out scummy spammers. Hope to see you there!

Check out the forums:
Hoax-Slayer Forums

Managing Downloads

For a while now I've been using a system of managing downloads
that I feel is quite effective, especially if you download a lot
of software.

First of all, I have a parent folder on my C drive that I call
'AAADownloads' so that it stays at the top in Windows Explorer
for easy access.

Every time I download a program, I create a new sub-folder within
this parent folder that has the same name as the software I'm

Normally I store all the files and folders associated with the
software in this sub-folder. I also create a plain text software
log for each download that records the following information.

**Download Date:
**Install Date:
**Installation Report:

To save time, I have a template file set up so I can just fill
in the blanks and save the resulting file to the new program's

I find that it can be really useful to have all the information
and files you need for a program in an easily accessible and
well-organized location

Monday, July 11, 2005

SearchStatus Firefox Extension

If you are looking for a way to easily check PageRank and backlinks, but don't have a need for the full Google Toolbar, then this little Firefox extension might be just the ticket!

SearchStatus unobtrusively displays a website's Google PageRank and Alexa Rank in the Firefox browser's status bar. Right-clicking the icon gives you a variety of other options, including backlinks information for Google, Yahoo and MSN, Whois data, fast access to Meta Tags and more.

This extension is a very handy tool for webmasters who use Mozilla Firefox

Find out more about SearchStatus

Clif Notes Newsletter

I subscribe to a lot of email newsletters as I think they are an excellent way to increase your knowledge, find out about interesting products, websites, people and ideas, and perhaps just get a good laugh.

One email newsletter that I would highly recommend is Clif Notes. Here is what the publisher has to say about Clif Notes:
What is Clif Notes Newsletter? Each week, I send out a plain text newsletter with a link to the newsletter website. I review several freeware applications. I offer Windows tips, tricks, and security advice. I also recommend interesting websites I've visited. Best of all, it's free. No spam, No ads, Nobody else sees your email address.

I've discovered several excellent websites and freeware programs via the Clif Notes Newsletter. Click the link below to check out Clif Notes and grab your own free subscription.

Clif Notes Newsletter - Freeware and Website Reviews

Friday, July 08, 2005

Google Toolbar for Firefox

Google has just released a Mozilla Firefox compatible version of the excellent Google Toolbar. I'm testing it out right now. Although it is still a beta, the toolbar seems to be working fine, so far.

Please note that the System requirements for the toolbar are Windows XP/2000 SP3+, Mac OS X 10.2+, or Red Hat Linux 8.0+.

More info about Google Toolbar BETA for Firefox

Monday, July 04, 2005

Advanced Diary

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying out Advanced Diary, an excellent freeware diary application. I’ve tried a few digital diaries in the past. In fact, I even created a fairly primitive one of my own using Visual Basic. However, Advanced Diary is by far the best I’ve used. (At least until I find the time, inclination and expertise to enhance my own

Advanced Diary has an impressive list of features, including:

· Ability to create multiple diaries
· Password Protection
· Extensive formatting options
· Calender or Document mode
· Very clean and intuitive interface
· Backup facility

This is remarkable little package, especially for a freebie!

The brand new beta version, which I'm currently trying out, also features an excellent spell checker and thesaurus.

Check out Advanced Diary

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Single Click To Open Programs and Folders

In order to open a program or folder, the normal procedure is to
double-click the associated icon. Generally, one click will
highlight the icon while two will open it. However, if you would
prefer to open programs and folders with just one click, you can
easily configure your Windows system to allow this:

Windows XP Users:

1. Press Widows Key + E to open Windows Explorer

2. Click on "Tools" then on "Folder Options".

3. With the "General" tab selected, choose the item labelled
"Single click to open an item (point to select)".

4. Exit out of the Folder Options dialog and out of Windows

Windows 9x Users:

1. Press Widows Key + E to open Windows Explorer

2. Click on "View" then on "Folder Options".

3. With the "General" tab selected, choose "Custom, based on
setting you choose, and then click the "Settings" button.

4. Choose the item labelled "Single click to open an item
(point to select)".

5. Exit out of the open dialogs and out of Windows Explorer.

Now a single click on an icon will open your programs or folders

By the way, I've just added a compter tips section to my website. I'll be adding more tips over the next few weeks. You can check the tips out via the link below:

Computer Tips - Enhance Your Computing Experience

Friday, July 01, 2005


MS Paint, the graphics application that comes bundled with Windows Operating Systems is a quite basic package. It is adequate for producing very simple graphics but not suitable for creating anything too fancy.

However, there is an excellent free replacement for MS Paint that offers much more sophisticated graphics manipulation capabilities. Paint.NET looks a lot like MS Paint, but boasts advanced features such as the ability to use layers, a number of built in effects, photo and image adjustment options and a lot more. runs on Windows 2000, XP, or Server 2003 and is written in the C# programming language.

Check out Paint.NET

Change in Scope

I'm sorry to say I have neglected this little blog for far too long! Anyway, I’ve decided to widen the scope of the blog a little. I'll now offer brief reviews and opinions about both free and fee-based software. I'll also throw in a few computer tips that I've found useful, and link to some interesting, unusual or amusing websites that I've come across while browsing.