Archive for April, 2008

Windows Software: Be informed when webpages have been updated, using WebMon

WebmonRSS feeds are a great way to see all the latest updates on your favourite websites. Unfortunately, not all sites offer RSS feeds, and sometimes it would be inappropriate for them to do so. So how do you know when sites have changed their content without having to constantly visit them?

WebMon is a small utility that sits in your task tray, and alerts you if any of your predefined websites have been updated.

You can set it up to monitor any number of websites, and then define the frequency that each of your websites will be checked for updates.

WebMon stores a copy of a web page, and then after a predefined time, it will download another copy and compare the two. If there have been any changes, you will be alerted with a sound, or a pop-up.

WebMon is going to be great for me as I look at the same sites regularly doing research for this site, only to find no updates have been made. I will no longer need to visit each site individually or repetitively, thanks to this program. I read how someone else uses WebMon for alerts when the box office opens. Now he can buy tickets as soon as they are made available. 

WebMon couldn’t be any easier to use. It is also highly customisable. The only concern I have with WebMon, is that it is downloading pages regularly in the background. This could chew into your monthly bandwidth. You can specify how often the sites are checked for updates. Setting your update checks to happen every few days instead of every few minutes, will ensure your bandwidth is not wastefully consumed.

Get your copy of WebMon for free from Colin Markwells website

Thanks for the tip Matthew. This will be program I wondered how I ever did without.

IMG Face-Off: Best free program to undelete deleted files

UndeleteWhen a file is deleted, it is initially moved into the recycle bin. When the bin is emptied, the file can no longer be found on the system, though all of the contents of the file is still on the hard disk. It is just the filename that is removed. The data will remain on your system until it is overwritten. This makes it possible to restore deleted files using an undelete utility.

I searched far and wide for free undelete utilities and found a few of them. There are a vast range of commercial options, but if there are free options available that work, why not use them.

Each of them are designed to undelete files from an NTFS formatted drive. I am not going to give an in depth review of each of them. That would be beyond the scope of this article. I simply wanted to find the best one for the average person. I tested the following programs:

I installed each of the programs and then did a scan of my Windows drive with each program. I was surprised to find the results for each to be very different. Each of the programs came up with files that could be undeleted.

Glary Undelete, FreeUndelete 2.0 and Undelete Plus each came up showing similar files, with the same bogus names. The list of files that were offered by these programs to be undeleted was not very long, and the filenames were jumbled up numbers making it impossible to know what to undelete.

NTFS Undelete showed more files than I had expected. Each filename was the same as it was originally called, making files easy to restore. The interface was nice and easy to use. I had much higher success rate restoring files using NTFS Undelete. It clearly won out in this battle on many fronts. It now sits in my Start Menu awaiting its next life saving use.

It is a good idea not to delete files that you may need again in the future, but accidents do happen. NTFS Undelete is a handy program to have on hand. If you use it on a friends computer or in a workplace, you will be looked up to like a magician.

I hope you have found this article useful. Maybe it will help you recover that lost file, and at least save you the time required to search for the right program to use.

IMG Quickie: Get control of your PowerPoint presentations.

PowerpointThere are so many ways to control the movement between slides in PowerPoint. We can use the Enter key, our mouse or touch pad (to click or scroll), or we can use the arrow keys on our keyboard. I prefer to use the arrow keys as they a reliable, and if you make a mistake by skipping a slide, you can easily press the left arrow to backtrack.

The method I see people use most often is to click using either a mouse or a touch pad. This is an obvious choice for many as the buttons are big and easy to find. The only problem with this method, is that if you skip a slide, it is natural to try a right click to backtrack. Instead of PowerPoint moving back one slide, you get an ugly context menu as shown above. Not only is this menu fairly useless, it is distracting, and it destroys the flow of the presentation. I see this context menu show up in so many presentations. It is a gripe of mine so I looked to see if it was possible to make the right click step back.

Both PowerPoint 2003 and 2007 have the option to disable the context menu. You can change a setting to make your right click move the presentation back one slide.

Go into your PowerPoint settings.
If you are using PowerPoint 2003, look in the view tab
If you are using PowerPoint 2007, click on advanced
Untick “Show menu on right mouse click”

I don’t know why this isn’t the default setting.

How-to: Access multiple email accounts from the one location with Outlook Exchange

Outlook2007The company I work for runs on Exchange. I often see staff trying to access their personal POP3 or HTTP email through web interfaces, or from their personal laptop.

Wouldn’t it be nice if they were able to bring all their email accounts together into the one place, but still have control of them individually. This is quite possible with Exchange, and it works fantastically well.

I love having access to an Exchange server. It beats other mail protocols hands down for accessibility and control. Your mail can be accessed through a web front-end, or a full blown desktop client in the form of Outlook. Once you have your mail you can send off messages to and from a supported phone with Push technology. There is not much you can’t do with it.

I have four email accounts that each go into my Exchange account. This means that I am able to access each and every email, from any of the accounts, through my email client, my phone, or through a web interface.

This article will show you how to set this up for yourself. It is really very simple to set up, and the time saved from accessing various account individually will be significant. There will be much less email clutter to tidy up as well. There will only be one Inbox that you need to control and monitor.

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How-to: Schedule your backup or sync programs to run when Vista is idle

Difficulty: 1.5

TaskcreateBacking up your computer is important, but it can be a hassle. If we have to do it manually, chances are that we will forget one time or another. On the other hand, if we set it up to run automatically to a schedule, we may find it interferes with our normal computer usage.

Vista task scheduler is a very powerful tool. We can set it up to run programs only if the computer is idle. This serves two purposes. The backups will be made automatically and the backups will not interfere with your normal usage.

A huge added bonus is that we can use any backup program we like. We are not limited to backup programs that have scheduling built in. All we need is a backup program that can start backing up as soon as it is launched, which just about all of them can do.

This article is specifically for Windows Vista. XP’s scheduled tasks does not have the idle features built in, though it may be able to be achieved with a third party program.

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