DriveHQ – Online File Storage

March 9, 2009

drivehq_0As you may have read in some previous postings, I’ve examined and reviewed several of the available online file storage offerings. Currently, there’s several different systems that will auto sync files or do auto backups, or allow you to upload files for online storage. For my needs, I want a method for storing files off my Desktop PC for safe keeping (in case my hard drive blows up, or my house burns down). So, I don’t need the file syncing features. Most of the online file storage solutions that I’ve come across don’t allow you to directly upload folders containing files or other subfolders. You have to select and upload individual files, or a group of files. For me, that would be very time consuming and not acceptable. I wanted a system that would allow me to select a folder and have it and its contents uploaded to an online storage system.

Luckily, I came across one solution called DriveHQ (offered by Drive Headquarters) that does what I need. It has an easy-to-use interface that allows me to simply drag-n-drop my folder into my “DriveHQ” drive on my PC, and begin the uploading process. It will actually upload the files in the background so I can continue working on other things and leave it unattended. Great!

DriveHQ currently offers 1 GB of free storage, which works fine for me since I just want to upload client web page files for safe storage. If you want to backup large files (such as video files, pictures, etc.) you’ll probably fill up your 1 GB allotment very quickly. Then, you’ll be looking at paying for more storage space as explained on DriveHQ’s web site.

In contrast, SkyDrive (by Microsoft) offers you 25 GB of free online storage, however, you can’t upload folders. You have to upload individual files (or a group of files) which is a time consuming process. So, I’ll probably stick with DriveHQ for a while and see how easy and effective it is, and will decide whether to upgrade for more storage space when the time comes.


Missed Your Favorite TV Episode? Just Watch it Online!

March 9, 2009

tv_setSometimes I’m out of town on a business trip or are too busy and forget to watch one of my favorite evening TV shows. I normally set up my Vista Media Center to record the show, but in some cases I forget or my computer is shut off for some reason. Well, never fear– you can watch your missed show online!

For example, I missed one of this season’s episode to Teminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, so I went to http://www.fox.com and was able to watch it online on my Desktop PC in a web browser. I’ve done this a few times before, but I noticed last night that Fox has some new player technology that produced a really clear video on my monitor. I’ve got a 1600×1050 wide-screen LCD display, and I was able to play the streaming TV show full-screen with great clarity. It was amazing. Now, I do have relatively high-speed Internet access via a Comcast cable connection, but nevertheless, I was suitably impressed.

It seems that with today’s technology, we might see more and more Internet streaming of TV shows and movies. It may be that in a few years, we all have a digital media center connected to our big, flat screen TVs (or monitors) and watch all our programming via the Internet. I can’t wait! 🙂


Netbooks Bring On Alternate Operating Systems

March 9, 2009

dell_netbookHere’s an interesting article on wired.com that describes the use of alternate operating systems for the new Netbook computers. Netbooks are designed to be small, lightweight laptops that run a low-powered CPU to maximize battery life, and are used mainly to connect to the Internet. So, these machines are designed to do just about everything via the Internet. As such, hardware manufacturers are starting to install Linux-based operating systems on these machines since Linux is inexpensive and can easily run web browser and email applications.

Internet-based tools already exist for calendar, word processing, and email functions (e.g., Google), and there are lots of online storage options available. So I can see very customized operating systems ranging from a standard Linux installation to some reduced, optimized version of Linux. This will certainly challenge Microsoft in the area of Internet Netbooks operating systems.


Bringing Back the MS Office 2003 Menus in Office 2007

March 9, 2009

I hate the new ribbons in Microsoft Office 2007. I just can’t find anything in the menus, or know which ribbon tab to look under for a desired function. I guess Microsoft needed to change something to demonstrate they “improved” the product. I learned from trial-and-error, that most of the functions that you can’t find in the menus or ribbon are available by doing a right-click on the document or object. So if you can’t find what you need, do a right-click and check the pop-up context menu.

Today, I stumbled upon a nice freeware utility that will bring back the old 2003-style menus in Office 2007.  The utility is called UBitMenu.

Below is what Microsoft Word 2007 looks like with the standard ribbon interface:

office2007_11

When you install the UIBitMenu utility, you’ll see the old-style 2003 menus as shown below:

office2007_2

Note, that the 2007 ribbon is still there, but you’ll see an extra ribbon above it that contains the standard drop-down menus (under the Menu tab) as shown above.

So, this is a nice utility to go back to the old-and-familiar menu interface and become productive again!


Photoshop Alternative – Paint.net (Freeware)

March 4, 2009

paint_dot_netJust like when people use the term “Google it” as being synonymous with searching for something online, people also use the term “Photoshop it” for describing graphic image editing. Although Google is free to use, Photoshop is not. In fact, it’s quite expensive by my standards.

In the past I’ve used several different freeware applications (such as PaintShop Pro, GIMP), however, I’ve come across a new application that works very similarly to Photoshop. The program is called Paint.net and is freely available for the Windows platform. The developers update the software frequently, and it has a lot of capability (it does everything that I need!).

So if you’re looking for a good “Photoshop”-like application that is free, check out Paint.net!


The Quest For A Silent PC

March 4, 2009

pc_caseI normally work out of a home office where I’m on my Desktop PC answering emails and taking calls on my cell phone (welcome to the digital world). I began to notice one day that my aging Desktop PC was emitting a high-pitch whine which was giving me a big headache by the end of the day. Whenever I visited a customer on-site, I would listen to their Desktop PCs and I noticed that they were virtually silent. So why was my PC so damn noisy?

One day I just couldn’t take it any longer, so I opened up my Desktop PC case and began hunting around for the source of the whining noise. I discovered that the high-pitch whine was coming from the small fan that sat on top of the main CPU, but I also noticed that noise was emanating from other components such as the power supply fan, case fan, and the small fan on the graphics adapter card. The hard drive was also making noise as it was vibrating inside the drive bay. So at that point I was on a mission: To build the quietest PC as possible!

Of course, I knew that I wasn’t the first person to attempt to build a quiet PC so I did a quick Google search and found this wonderful site: Silent PC Review. This site was completely devoted to those who wanted to create the most quiet PC as possible. It had several reviews of cases, hard drives, fans, etc. specifically examined for quietness. After reviewing the different posting on this site, I decided to buy the following components for my new Desktop PC: Read the rest of this entry »


OpenOffice – Free Business Suite For Your PC

March 4, 2009

openofficeWhether we like it or not, Microsoft has dominated the world with their operating systems and products. This is especially true in the business world, where just about everybody uses some version of Microsoft Office for their daily activities. MS-Word for documents, MS-Excel for spreadsheet calculations, MS-Powerpoint for visual presentations, and MS-Access for database work. So whoever you are, you’re bound to get an email with an MS-Word or MS-Excel attachment that you may want to view or edit. Instead of paying big bucks for Microsoft Office, there is a freeware alternative: OpenOffice.

OpenOffice was created by Sun Microsystems and they offer it as a freeware product that has the same functionality as Microsoft Office. Included in the OpenOffice suite are the following applications:

  • Writer – For creating documents (MS-Word equivalent)
  • Calc – For spreadsheet calculations (MS-Excel equivalent)
  • Impress – For visual presentations (MS-Powerpoint equivalent)
  • Draw – A graphics application
  • Base – A database application (MS-Access equivalent)

The best thing about these products, is that they are compatible with their Microsoft Office counterparts. So, you can open an MS-Word .DOC file or MS-Excel .PPT file using the OpenOffice applications. You can even edit and save those documents into the Microsoft format if you wish. This makes it very handy if you want to access such Microsoft-formatted files and don’t want to pay for the full Microsoft Office applications. And best of all, it’s free!