Archive for November, 2007

Windows\Mac Software: MPEG Streamclip

Img_streamclip_main2In the early 1990’s, when ‘multimedia’ was the big buzzword among personal computers, Apple created QuickTime as a complement to its QuickDraw graphics rendering & manipulation system. Apple wanted to do for time-based media (ie. movies, sound) what it did for graphics – that is, make manipulating movies as easy as cut, copy & paste. And so, in early versions of QuickTime, you could do exactly that, without paying a penny; within the standard QuickTime MoviePlayer application, you could select start & end points, chop & change at will, and even copy & paste movies into other applications that supported QuickTime. You could paste a QuickTime movie into a word processor document just as easily as if you were pasting text!
Granted, a lot of movies were postage-stamp sized in those days, and there’s not really a lot of practical use for movies in word processor documents, but boy it was fun – just because you could do it.

Eventually QuickDraw fell by the wayside to make way for Quartz in Mac OS X, but QuickTime lived on – and it went from being an optional extension to becoming an integral part of the Mac system. Nowadays, if you want to do any cutting, copying, pasting or other basic editing of QuickTime movies, you have to cough up money to Apple to unlock these features.

But what’s not generally known to the average user is that these features are only locked within Apple’s standard QuickTime Player application. Enterprising third-party programmers can freely tap into QuickTime’s full feature set and offer them to their users in other applications. One such result is this week’s treat for Mac AND Windows: MPEG Streamclip. Read on…

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How-to: Rid your inbox of spam – almost (Outlook)

Difficulty: 2

PieChartSpam plagues our Inbox each day. Emails advertising Rolex watches, penis enlargements, viagra and emails from Nigeria offering me vast amounts of money for doing nothing, are all very annoying, but we are able to get rid of most of them automatically.

Email servers often have spam protection built in. These cull the majority of spam, but they have to allow a fair chunk of spam through so as to not restrict legitimate emails. Sometimes if they are unsure, they may add a spam tag to the subject. It is scary looking at server stats, just how much is stopped at the server level.

In our email client we are able to setup rules to remove the majority of remaining spam from our Inbox. I regularly find myself doing this on computers where I work and have found this method to be very reliable.

This article will show you how to setup basic email rules which will check mail as it is received. The rules will look for keywords in the body and the subject of you emails to decide if they are spam or not. We are then able to move these filtered emails to a folder of our choice.

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A post about shortcuts

Difficulty: 1

ShortcutShortcuts are a very important feature of any operating system. We use them to launch programs and our Internet Explorer favourites, or we can use them to make our computer perform set tasks.

In my job, I find myself regularly being asked how to make shortcuts. I would normally first advise users to get rid of the unnecessary links to readme files and uninstallers so that their utilities stand out more. 

Saying that, shortcuts are really easy to make and are sometimes necessary. As shortcuts are used in every operating system, I thought I would have a look into them a little further and try to get some creativity going so that we can get the most out of our shortcuts. 

Over the past week there have been a number of great posts around the blogosphere about how to make shortcuts to do certain tasks. These inspired me to write an article that would allow you to get your shortcuts to work for you more effectively.

In this article, we will create shortcuts to a handful of little utilities, existing Windows utilities and Windows features. The end result will be an easily accessible group of shortcuts that can be launched quickly and without hesitation.

By the time you have finished reading this article, you should have a workforce of shortcuts ready to be used with a single click. You have one location to access them all. It is sort of like having your own customised control panel on hand.

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Friday Fun: My mouse is doing crazy stuff.

Difficulty: 1

Crazymouse

This is the part III of a new series of articles here at Inspect My Gadget. While most how-to articles you will find on this site will help you to be more productive, it’s sometimes fun to plant a practical joke on your work mates computer.

This week we look at crazy mouse. Normally when you move a mouse around the screen, it will go where you want it to. That is until you try this practical joke.

The result:

  • The desktop will appear untouched.
  • You will be able to move your victims mouse cursor without them knowing, which will create confusion and frustration.
  • The more subtle you are, the longer you can play out the joke.

This joke takes little explanation but it is extremely effective. I used this practical joke on my boss and it went down well. Read on to find out how to make this happen, and how to restore the system quickly before you get decked.

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How-to: Customise your incoming alert sound for each email.

Difficulty: 2

Outlook_2007Many mobile phones have allowed us to change the ring tone, depending on who is calling us. This can be helpful as we no longer need to get our phone out to see who it is. The ring tone will audibly tell us. Why not create the same custom tones for our incoming email?

Email consumes us each day. We often check our email whenever a new message comes in, only to find out it is spam or non urgent. Setting up your email with audible alerts depending on urgency, subject and sender is another way to streamline your email usage.

Setting this up will allow you (with a little self control), leave all your non urgent email for a certain time of the day, and remain focused on your work. You will know when an urgent email has been received, as you will be familiar with the alert. We do all this by using simple email rules.

This is just as useful if you are someone who does not check their email regularly, but would like to be alerted when an important message has come in.

This article is written for Office 2007 running on Vista. This works in both Outlook 2003 and 2007 and the setup is very similar for both. Read on. 

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