Posts Tagged «productivity»

Last week I ran into a problem.  I have a computer that’s six months old and looking at my drive properties I discovered that I only have 40% free space left on a 200 GB hard drive.  After clicking through a maze of directories trying to identify where the largest space eaters were for about five minutes I decided to search for a better way.

WinDirStat ScreenshotEventually I discovered WinDirStat. It’s a free utility that scans your hard drive and represents files and folders graphically.  Each folder is represented by a rectangle with smaller rectangles inside it. Each rectangle drawn as one constant gradient represents a single file, and that makes it easy to identify which files and folders are taking up the most space.

WinDirStat allows you to click on each rectangle and zoom in further for more detail.  On the top pane it provides percentages for each file and folder, and there are also some color coding options.

Here’s to keeping your hard drive clean!

Today I discovered something pretty exciting, it’s a company that provides free conference calling. FreeConferenceCall.com runs with a prevalent business practice on the web, providing a free service that will hopefully persuade users to upgrade with additional for-pay features. Nonetheless their free conference calling is a great way to connect with a lot of people quickly and easily, without the investment.

FreeConferenceCall.com When testing the system, the only advertisement I noticed is an opening statement indicating that FreeConferenceCall.com is hosting the call. I was also surprised to learn that they support conference call recordings, and you can download the recording in .wav format.

It looks like some users were abusing the system because they require everyone to reregister every 120 days. If you’d rather have a 1-800 number they also support that for a fee.

If you’re looking a way to connect with a lot of business contacts or friends at once, this is it.

I publish files for a variety of web sites and it can become overwhelming to keep track of which files are up-to-date on the remote server. Surfing the web for a better solution last week I discovered WinSCP. It’s a free FTP client (though donations are welcome) that includes the ability to synchronize files between a local folder and a remote FTP server.

WinSCP That’s a pretty awesome because if you’re anything like me the local folders stay organized but the remote server gets pretty messy. This way it’s as easy as navigating to the relevant folder and choosing synchronize.

Another great feature is the ability to synchronize browsing. That means whenever you browse to a directory locally, the equivalent folder will open remotely.

Here are a list of features from their site:

  • Graphical user interface
  • Translated into several languages
  • Integration with Windows (drag&drop, URL, shortcut icons)
  • U3 support
  • All common operations with files
  • Support for SFTP and SCP protocols over SSH-1 and SSH-2 and plain old FTP protocol
  • Batch file scripting and command-line interface
  • Directory synchronization in several semi or fully automatic ways
  • Integrated text editor
  • Support for SSH password, keyboard-interactive, public key and Kerberos (GSS) authentication
  • Integrates with Pageant (PuTTY authentication agent) for full support of public key authentication with SSH
  • Windows Explorer-like and Norton Commander-like interfaces
  • Optionally stores session information
  • Optionally supports standalone operation using a configuration file in place of registry entries, suitable for operation from removable media

There are several camps when it comes to tags versus folders, and Gmail users are a great example of this. They’ve debated Google’s implementation of labels since their launch. One camp prefers folders because that’s what they’re used to and they may have a meticulously classified document structure in place already. Another camp likes to throw everything into a mixing bowl and perform searches every time to pull out information. Yet a third camp likes to apply labels, or tags to their e-mail and use those tags to create information filters.

Resourceweb One thing all camps can agree on: the goal for all of these methods is to filter information and locate specific pieces of data. My preference is to minimize the amount of administration required to maintain a structure of resources, which I’ll refer to as a resourceweb. To create a low maintenance system I use a combination of search and tagging because each varies in effectiveness depending on a given set of circumstances.

Here are my suggestions on finding files more quickly within your resourceweb. First, become familiar with your operating system’s searching capabilities or install Google Desktop. Next, choose your tagging system. Windows users may want to investigate tag2find, which is free tagging software I’ll review in more detail later. If you’re a Mac OS X user, check out this article on Lifehacker discussing native tagging support.

Finally, the real challenge is to brainstorm what keywords to use. Usually it works well to think of broader categories, especially if they’re words you use in your regular vocabulary, then brainstorm details you might search for later. For example any given file in my music library might have these tags: music, mp3, hiphop. This is already a successful organizational methodology in use by companies like Del.icio.us and Amazon.com, now just think of applying that same efficiency to your resourceweb.

Search usually works well on its own but at times there are too many results. Tagging can help limit search engine scope, and also allows you to browse topics of interest without locking on to the perfect search term.

How do you organize your resourceweb?

Anyone who works in the world of updating web sites and coordinating changes between stakeholders is familiar with the need to document change requests. As Web Worker Daily points out, there’s a new tool called Taskee that organizes this communication back and forth with the addition of a few lines of code.

After installing the code on any given page,Open Button an Open button will appear at the top. When a person on the project wants to leave a comment all they have to do is click on that button, log in and begin leaving comments. Access is restricted via an approved list of usernames and passwords managed by the project admin.

My background is in a corporate environment and I can see this being useful here as much as for freelancers. Often I’m working with several internal customers, other teams that must come to consensus, and a management team that has to approve each project. This would centralize all of that communication and provide greater accountability for change requests.

I also agree with Mike Gunderloy from Web Worker Daily, this tool would take a leap forward by adding a page-level annotation tool.

Reading Taskee’s blog it looks like this will be a free product during beta with tiered paid options available in the future.

The thought of inserting any device into my skull makes me cringe, but the potential benefits certainly are tempting. While reading A Step Toward a Living, Learning Memory Chip by Scientific American, I learned that a group of scientists has created a method of recording a set of patterns originally created via synapses in the brain to a device that can store that pattern for many days. The key here is that this transfer of knowledge doesn’t disrupt any other function in the brain, as far as they know. That’s always the caveat with new technologies though.

Computer Chip Beyond the physiological risk, this opens an entirely new realm of competition between humans. It’s almost like gamers with their hardware rigs, and the race to have the most realistic graphics and purest sound. Similarly, I can see a future where humans scramble to buy the latest upgrade to their implant processing subsystem.

My question is: what happens when the system gets bogged down with spyware or the more recent botnet scams? Because if implants go mainstream, wireless implants would soon follow. Would you be able to perform a system reformat and start over?

The ethics in a situation like that become debatable. I would argue that ascending too quickly and creating an addiction to embedded mechanical technology is dangerous.

For a present example, ask any World of Warcraft addict how fulfilling their life is.

One of the many ways I prowl for good content on the web is by listening to podcasts. Often though, good information is dispersed across several brief broadcasts from a variety of authors. Sometimes I’m in the gym running, sliding around the iPod’s clickwheel to select the next podcast; all while dodging other runners. An accident-prone endeavor to say the least.

Then I ran across smart playlists on Apple’s web site and realized that they could easily solved my problem. I set up two playlists named PodShort and PodLong.

In iTunes 7, smart playlists appear under File>>New Smart Playlist … For my PodShort smart playlist I configured it to pull up only podcasts with time less than ten minutes and a play count of zero, ordered randomly. For each additional rule click on the plus sign at the right-hand side. That playlist enabled me to hear commentary from six different podcasts (each around five minutes long) rapid fire without the need to pick and choose during my workout. And you guessed it, I use my PodLong list when I have a larger chunk of time available for research, it pulls up podcasts over ten minutes long.

iTunes Smart Playlist Configuration

My only gripe at this point is with volumes. Each podcast has a different loudness which means I had to pull out my iPod, turn off the lock, and adjust volume a couple of times. That should be something iTunes takes care of programmatically or through a set of enforced volume standards.

All sorts of people are looking for jobs, some for the first time, some because they’re looking for a more fulfilling role, or sometimes it’s because there was conflict and it’s time to move on. Whatever the case, it’s important to portray a professional image to potential employers on the self-marketing journey and here’s a service that can help.

Resolio provides a fast (and free) way for you to create an online resume that looksResume smooth. Right now they have lots of designs available with more appearing on a regular basis. Resolio has the ability to host your resume, or you can embed it in another web site.

If Resolio continues to create new designs with unique looks and feels, this has the potential to move forward into an infrastructure service that other job search sites plug into. As with many new Web2.0 startups it will depend on how well they’re able to get the word out and how many exclusive capabilities their webware wields.

If you’re looking for a job this is a great tool to check out.

Resolio home page.

Have you ever needed to rename 100 files to include a numbered series? Or maybe edit a set of mp3s that include a bunch of junk text at the end or beginning of the file name?

Here’s a utility for you, 1-4a Rename is freeware and it’s a single executable that when launched provides a variety of ways to rename groups of files. It also includes an undo function. Here’s a small sample of what it can do:

  • Capitalize the beginning letter of each word, or make all letters upper case or lower case
  • Insert a set of text at the beginning of each file name
  • Add a set of numbers to the beginning or end of file names that increment or decrement
  • Replace a set of text with different text, or remove it completely (for example change “pol1″ to “policy1″
  • Shorten file names to 64 characters
  • Filter results to work with in a folder using wildcards * ?
  • Restrict changes to file name, extension, or whole name

The list goes on. This is a must have utility for anyone who works with a multitude of files.

Network The measure of how efficiently any body operates can be measured by the smoothness of interaction between its myriad parts. Human bodies have organs that interact via signals sent through the nervous system and through packages of nutrients and waste transferred in the bloodstream. When harmful bacteria or viruses enter the body, its resources respond immediately to slow and eventually destroy the foreign particles (remember this point, it’s important).

Zooming out to view any job function as a body, the same concepts of efficacy apply. Consider a typical office worker’s day filled with e-mails, phone calls, meetings, and spontaneous conversations. Communication takes place through wires and waves, and materials shift to different locations through mail and local trash pickup :-}

With so many parallels between bodily functions it’s only right to bring some common sense through the filter:

  • If a virus or bacteria continues to fight against your immune system does your body give up? Certainly not. It either shifts to a different sort of antibody or calls in more white blood cells. Don’t let bureaucracy or contract nibbling (more…)