“They liked your Q&A piece.” It was my editor, sounding surprised. “Do another one.”
Oddly enough, I get a kick out of telling you about the computing struggles and solutions that other “Tips & Tweaks” readers experience. I also enjoy the challenge of finding workarounds to some of the gnarly problems you face.
Even more enjoyable is hearing about tools and ideas I’ve missed, things that do a better job than the products I’ve mentioned.
This week? A couple of clarifications, some questions answered, a few reader recommendations, and–hold onto your seats–an abject apology.
The Bass Apology
Memo to all IT, IS, and network administrators: You’re right and I was wrong. In my August print column, I told readers how they could attach files to e-mail that would bypass corporate filters. My intent was to help people send a video or image file; I suggested renaming the files with extensions such as .zi (with a letter space at the end) or .duh.
The trick apparently works pretty well: More than just a couple of angry network administrators wrote to me. One said, “You dope. The trick also allowed users to send executables and other files” that could be loaded with viruses.
“I liked your article on sneaking files past IT types,” said George S., a network consultant from Pasadena. “It’s a clever idea and I’ll keep it in mind next week as I visit all my clients to block .zi and .duh attachments. Thanks for the help.”
I apologize. Really. And in this case I encourage people in corporate environments not to take my advice (and no, for a change I’m not being facetious).
A few weeks ago, I mentioned a site with some nifty free fonts you can download and install on your PC.
Once you’ve installed the fonts, you can use them in any application that lets you choose fonts, like Microsoft Word or your desktop publishing program. I took it for granted that everyone would know how to install the fonts without having to hire a $70-an-hour consultant, but apparently I shouldn’t have.
Here’s the scoop: Installation is straightforward. Download the fonts you want from DaFont.com, then unzip the files in Windows Explorer. (If you don’t know how to unzip a file, read our FAQ.) Now, open the Control Panel, open Fonts (the applet icons are in alphabetical order), and drag the unzipped font files from their folder onto the open Font window. Easy, eh?
If for some odd reason that doesn’t work, try this: Open the Font window again from Control Panel, then select File, Install New Font. Navigate to the folder where you unzipped the font files and click the file you want to install (the font files have the .ttf extension).
Dig This: If you have a long, dull meeting coming up, you’ll need some help staying awake. Take your notebook along and try out some brain stimulating puzzles. One reader, who wished to remain anonymous, recommended the 2D tilt mazes. He’s right; they’re killers. But Oskar’s hysteresis mazes are tough, too, because you can move only east or west.
Exporting Files the Easy Way
Jillanne K., from Ohio, sent this frantic note (the e-mail was labeled with the “highest importance” tag): “I use Microsoft Publisher for my company’s newsletter. How do I e-mail it to folks who don’t have Publisher?”
The easiest way to send practically any document to others is by transforming it into an Adobe PDF file. There are dozens of free programs that do this, but my favorite is PDF ReDirect from EXP Systems. Besides being free, it’s quick and easy to use. Just install the tool and it adds itself to your list of printers. So in Jillanne’s case, she’d print her Publisher newsletter to the “PDF reDirect v2” printer. After a couple of steps, the program produces a file that anyone with a PDF reader can view. Go to the EXP Systems site for full instructions.
You can download the free Abobe Reader from us. But if you don’t want to wait around for Adobe Reader to load, try the super fast, super free Foxit Reader for Windows.
Dig This: Does anyone really know what time it is? In a linear matter of speaking, yes. And it seems like a lot of people do, at least after viewing the collection at AJScreensaver. Make sure to scroll down the page to see all the clocks. [Thanks, Bob R.]
Tasty Taskbar Tip
In a recent “Tips & Tweaks,” I kvetched about Copernic Desktop Search messing with my Windows taskbar.
Bill B. of Altadena, California, wrote to tell me about some nifty ways I can modify my taskbar. Here are Bill’s tips (with a little editing):
<blockquote>You can make some slick changes using the taskbar’s Toolbars menu, which you get to by right-clicking any empty portion of the taskbar and clicking <menucommand>Toolbars</menucommand>. Once there, just select whatever you want; for example, you could highlight Desktop if you’d like a quick way to get to the Desktop by way of the taskbar.</blockquote>
<blockquote>There are other things you can add to the taskbar. The one I like is Links for quick access to my favorite Internet links. Just follow the steps above and instead of Desktop, click on Links.</blockquote>
<blockquote>If you have a folder you need to access regularly, you can add it to the taskbar. This time when you get to Toolbars, click <menucommand>New Toolbar</menucommand> and choose a folder from the dialog box.</blockquote>
Staying on Track
You know I struggle to find other things to do (anything, in fact) when I sit down to write this column. My two favorites: I check e-mail every 10 seconds, and in between checks I browse the Internet for funny videos. With prodding from reader Rebecca W. of Durham, North Carolina, I found the program that puts a stop to this behavior and keeps me on track.
The Temptation Blocker is a free tool that lets me block the use of specific programs for a set amount of time. The first time I tried the program, I set it to stop me from accessing my e-mail program for 12 minutes. The dang thing works, but I spent 11 minutes trying to bypass it.