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Savvy Tech Tips - Part 2

January 27th 2007

Eos Tarot Card Reading

eos_tarot.jpgEos Tarot is slick little site, sponsored by Volkswagen, for getting a quick three-card reading about a question you’ve got about your life. You think of an open ended question, then deal a card for your past, present, and future. The reader then talks about the significance of each of the cards.
No signups required, and everything works right in your browser. The site works best with audio up, so you can hear the card reader talk about the cards that come up, but you can still read about each card if you’re in a place where audio would be unwise.

In many ways this site seems similar to Elf Yourself. We’ve got a corporate sponsor plugging an elegant one-page site that features some slick visitor interaction. It’s different and not quite as much fun as Elf Yourself, of course, in that you aren’t watching yourself dance around, but still, it’s nice to see these site types of fun sites coming up now and then.

Enjoy!

January 23rd 2007

Temporary Email

guerillamail1.jpgEver find yourself wanting to sign up for an interesting offer on the Internet, but balking at giving away your precious email address to what might be a spammer? Looking for some alternatives to anti-spam software?

Well, Guerrilla Mail and 10-Minute Email are just the answer. These are two handy little websites that generate a valid email address that will expire after just a few minutes. This is great for those Internet signups that insist you enter an email address.

To use the sites, just click on the link for getting an email address. Viola! The site refreshes, and you’ve got a temporary email address right on your screen that you can paste into the email field at any site. To check your email, with Guerrilla Mail, just refresh your page by clicking on the circular green arrows. For 10-Minute Email, you refresh your browser window (click on the circular icon at the top of your browser window).

As for which one of the two services is better, I’ve used both Guerrilla Mail and 10-Minute Email a few times now. Both are easy to use, but Guerrilla Mail is the easiest of the two. Also, one time 10-Minute Email simply never delivered me my test emails, but Guerrilla Email has always worked. Take your pick, though, as both seem reliable and functional, and are great tools in fighting spam.

Edit on 2/7/07: For a different type of anti-spam temporary email service, take a look at this post on Spam Gourment.

January 22nd 2007

Stumble!

stumble.jpgDo you find yourself going to the same websites and forums over and over again, repeating the same web browsing ritual day in and day out?

Stumble, a nifty little free extension to Firefox or Internet Explorer, might be just the thing for you. Basically, when you download the extension, you select some categories of websites that reflect your interests. Once you’ve installed Stumble (which takes less than a minute and is painlessly simple), you have an additional navigation bar at the top of your browser screen. To use the extension, you simply click on the Stumble icon. The extension then selects a website for you to view based on your preferential categories.

It’s the execution of this idea that makes the whole Stumble concept work, however. The sites Stumble displays are based on user approvals, which you can influence by clicking on a Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down icon. If you like the site you’ve been shown, you give it a thumbs up. Don’t like it? Give it a thumbs down. Additionally, you can add any website to Stumble’s database by clicking on “I Like It!” This approval system seems to work: I’d say that I’ve found three quarters of the sites Stumble gives me worthwhile. It’s been a great way to, um, “stumble” upon some wonderful new Internet resources.

If you’re so inclined, there is a lot more to the explore about the extension as well. There is a Stumble community, bookmarking, sharing websites with friends, etc. The heart of the program, however, is its website browsing capabilities.

Enjoy!

January 19th 2007

Importing Posts and Images From New Blogger to WordPress

I just made the move from New Blogger (formerly Blogger Beta) to WordPress, and found a couple of things about importing posts and images that took a long time for me to hunt down. In case this might be of help to someone doing the same thing, here’s what worked:

Importing Posts
1. This blog has a small utility to import posts from Blogger Beta to WordPress. It worked great for me, but everytime I tried it, it failed the first time I tried to run it. I pressed the button a second time and it worked perfectly. Very happy with the results with this. Excellent little application.

Once you do this, however, you will now have hotlinked to all your images on Blogger Beta. This is a Bozo No No, and eventually Blogger will shutdown access to your photos and you’ll get all those ugly red boxes.

To fix this, you’ll need to import all your images into WordPress as well. That takes us to…

Importing Images
2. This blog has a neat utility for importing photos from Blogger Beta to WordPress. I tried it and it worked perfectly.

However…

The Blogger Beta filing system is pretty arcane, and I ended up with all sorts of numerically named folders in my WordPress content folder after I did the transfer.

I wanted to at least start things out all nice and organized, and since I didn’t have many images on the old blog, I just went back in and manually imported my images.

Hope that helps!

January 19th 2007

Vanished…and Back.

Sorry for the disappearance over the last couple of weeks. I decided to move this blog to its own server, and life in general got hectic while this was going on. I also wanted to think about the general theme of this blog, and figure out a reasonable posting schedule.

I’ve decided to add blogging tips and information to this blog’s content. So many people are picking up blogging these days that I thought perhaps the information I pick up along the way could be helpful to them. I’m by no means an expert at blogging, but I’ve got long experience with education, technology, and training, so I’m thinking that perhaps my strengths can help me to explain the blogging things I’ve learned consisely.

Lastly, posting a tech tip article a day was too much for me to keep up with on a regular basis, so I’ve decided to reduce it to something more manageable. For large articles, I’m going to post once a week, on Tuesdays. Other random tips and stuff will go up at regular intervals, but at a minimum, every Tuesday I’ll post a full-fledged tip article.

Thanks for your patience while I made this move. As always, I welcome feedback and comments. Enjoy!

December 30th 2006

Online File Storage

Computer: All • Level: Novice

There are a lot of options out there for putting files online, many of them free. Claire’s Random Thoughts, a new tech-related blog, has a nice article about some of the better free options, and goes into detail on the differences and features of each of the programs. Quite helpful information!

There are oodles of reasons why you might want to save files at a remote location. Backing up files online reduces the risk of data loss if something nasty were to happen to your home or office, for example. You might simply want to access some files from a few different locations, and like me, perhaps you can never keep track of those tiny flash drives. Whatever the reason, it’s a handy thing to have a place online to put files, and Claire’s article makes finding a good place to put them a lot easier.

December 28th 2006

Using the “Find” Command

Computer: All • Level: Novice

When I do training seminars, I’ll occasionally ask students to find something on a webpage or in a document. The majority of participants will start to look around with their eyes, then start scrolling if they don’t find it right away. This, of course, is a natural and intuitive reaction: If someone tells you to look for something, you use your eyes to find it. Furthermore, this is often the best way to find something on computers. If you’ve got a small, organized webpage or moderately sized document, scanning quickly with your eyes for information is highly efficient.

The problem arises when we use our eyes to find precise bits of information on larger webpages and in longer documents. In these cases, using our eyes is not the most efficient way. People scroll all over the place, hunt up and down pages for the information they seek, and accomplishFound little except to get frustrated.

There is a better way: Get in the habit of going to the “find” command quickly. Most programs have this underutilized feature, and a lot of computer users know about it. But most computer users go to it far too slowly. By using this command instinctively, you can find things on pages and in documents much faster.

The key to using the “Find” function well is to remember the generic keystroke command to pull it up, so you don’t have to go to the pull-down menus to get to it. For most Windows programs (Explorer, Firefox, Word, etc.), you pull up the find command by holding down the Control key and pressing F. On Macs, you hold down the Command key (the one with the Apple on it) and press F. Your cursor will move to a field provided by the program where you can type in a word relating to the thing you are looking for in the document or on the page. You type in a word—or part of a word you are looking for—and the program will scan the document for the particular piece of information you seek.

Once you get in the habit of doing this, you’ll find that you can find information much faster than if you rely on your intuitive reaction of looking for things with your eyes. My general rule is that if I can’t find something on a page or in a document in about three seconds, I pull up the find command and type something in. It takes a while to get used to this, but once you get in the habit of doing so, you’ll find that you’ll locate information much faster.

Here are just a few common examples when this can especially help:

  • Looking for shipping or contact information on websites (type “ship” or “contact”).
  • Looking for a news story link on a particular site (type something particular, like “earthquake” or “Obama”).
  • Looking in any large text document for a particular piece of information (type something very specific).


Good luck, and happy finding!

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