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Getting-Along-With-Your-Computer

Useful And Fun

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I have a few programs that I seem to use over and over again. I think of these as the Swiss Army Knife of personal computing. That’s the “useful” part of today’s column. There’s also a “fun” part, so read on.

These are a few of my favourite things

Autoruns from the folks at Sysinternals is one of the most useful utilities on the planet. Run this utility when you want to see what programs run when you start up and/or login to Windows. But that is just the beginning. If you’ve tried working with msconfig, as we described in a previous column (http://rlis.com/columns/column44.htm), you know how cryptic the information there can be. Not so with Autoruns, which will give you more information about each program. And if you still can’t figure out what something is or does, you can right-click on it and select Google. Your browser will open and the Google search results will be ready for you. Get Autoruns here: http://www.sysinternals.com/Utilities/Autoruns.html. If you like Autoruns, you might also like Process Explorer also from Sysinternals. These programs are both absolutely free of charge, and also free of spyware.

Rainbow Folders is another program I find myself using every day. This program lets you change the colour of any folder icon. Why would you want to do that? Well, I do it so it’s easy to find the folders I most often work with. My Program Files folder is now green, and the Windows folder is red. I have a folder called Archives, which is purple, and the folder for my PalmPilot stuff is blue. It just makes them easier to find. You can get Rainbow Folders here: http://www.rainbowfolders.aionel.net/. It’s not exactly freeware. The author asks that if you like the program you send him a postcard from your town!

If you need to convert something you measure to some other unit of measure, Convert will probably already do it. And if it won’t, it will let you set up your own customized conversions. I started with the simple stuff like converting the temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit, and moved on to converting gigabytes to kilobytes. Convert will do miles/kilometres, miles per hour/kilometres per hour, and more. Now when my friends in the States ask, “How much is gas up there?” I can convert litres to gallons easily. I still have to go to the web to convert currency, but so does everyone else! Get Convert here: http://joshmadison.net/software/convert/

Let’s not even pretend these are useful. . . . . . But they could be fun! Have you tried Sudoku yet? It’s a puzzle you can play online. It looks like math, but it’s really not math --- thank goodness. You can play it here: http://www.uclick.com/client/wpc/wpdoc/. (Tip: Use the “Options” button to turn off the sound if you are playing at work!) For more about Sudoku, check out the Wikipedia article, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SuDoku.

The World Cup Soccer frenzy will start this weekend. If you want a little gadget that gathers the scores and displays them on your desktop, Microsoft happens to have one, which you can download here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=df6a6e6e-21af-4786-ad1d-a38e8bfda82f&DisplayLang=en. Microsoft Soccer Scoreboard looks pretty cool, although it’s too soon to know how well it works.

What are you thinking?

Do you have a favourite utility or game that is useful and free, or fun and free? Please let me know what it is and why you like it. I’d like to pass the information along to the other readers.


More Getting Along With Your Computer articles

About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

Computer Care Kelowna

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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