Monday, November 23, 2009

Create Panoramic Photos in Photoshop

Merging multiple photographs into a single large panoramic photo can yield excellent results and with the proper software it can turn your small sensor camera into a 30 megapixel digital camera.

Adobe Photoshop CS4 has an excellent Photomerge feature that automates the tedious process of lining up and merging multiple photos into a single larger photograph. Below is the procedure for merging multiple photos into a single panoramic photograph in Adobe Photoshop CS4.

1) Open Photoshop and select "File" and then "Automate" followed finally by "Photomerge.



2) Next you will be greeted by a dialog box with several options. The Layout options give you many choices in how the final outputted file will appear. For good results I usually leave it on "Auto" and let Photoshop decide, this usually gives me decent results, but feel free to experiment with all the options here.



3) After you have selected your layout you need to select the source files. Select the browse button and navigate to the folder where the individual photos for your panoramic photo are stored. Now since you are merging multiple photos you can highlight or select all the photos at once and Photoshop will add all of them to the source files list.

4) Once your source files have been selected hit "OK" and sit back and wait for Photoshop to do all work of merging your photos. If you have a large amount of photos to merge and an older slower computer this step could take a very long time.

5.) When Photoshop has completed its merging of your photograhs you will hopefully have a decent looking panoramic photograph. You will notice that Photoshop has created several layers with masks. This will allow you to adjust individual sections if your colour balance or exposure varies a bit from section to section. You may also notice crack lines in the merged photo (see arrow in photo below). Do not worry about these lines as they will disapear when you flatten your image.



6) If you are happy with the general look of your photo you can flatten it to a single layer (this will eliminate the crack lines). To flatten your file go to the "Layers" menu and  select "Flatten Image". When this is done you can crop your photo and adjust the colour balance and exposure on the entire photograph until you are ready to save and possibly share your new panoramic photo.

Below is the final version of the panorama from this short tutorial.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Find Google on Twitter

I found this  post on the Official Google Blog. The post listed all the accounts that Google has created on Twitter, and they even divided it up by category.

To see the list of Twitter accounts that Google has created on Twitter you can click here:



Monday, November 2, 2009

View RAW & DNG thumbnails in Windows 7

To view RAW & Adobe DNG thumbnails in Windows Explorer in the 64-bit addition of Windows 7 just download and install the free*** FastPictureViewer WIC RAW Codec Pack.


***(Recently FastPictureViewer has started charging for this codec pack. It is still reasonable at only $9.99 but if you still want the free version, you can download it from CNET.)

For installation instructions, follow the instructions below:

1) Go to http://www.fastpictureviewer.com/codecs/ and download the  64-bit edition of the WIC RAW Codec Pack.

2) Click on the Fast Picture Viewer WIC RAW Codec installer file that you downloaded to begin the installation.

3) At the first pop up window click "Next".

4) At the next screen, if you agree with the EULA than place a check mark next to "I accept..." and click next.



5) At the next screen you can choose to install codecs for all the available RAWs and DNG formats or just select the RAW types that you need and the Adobes DNG format. My recommendation is to just leave this as is, with all available RAW types and the Adobe DNG codec being installed. Once you  have made your choice click "Next"

6) On the next screen click "Install". If a UAC prompt pops up just click "Yes"

7) After the installation has completed a new window will pop up. Just click "Finish"

8) A final window will appear asking you if you want to restart your computer. You can choose to restart now by selecting "Yes" or select "No" to restart later. Before you can view RAW and DNG thumbnails in Windows Explorer  your system will have to be restarted.

9) After a system restart the installation is complete and you will now be able to view most RAW files and Adobe DNG thumbnails in Windows 7 Explorer.



Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hide User Account In Windows 7

I have a home network consisting of all Microsoft Windows PCs. To make file sharing and networking easier, I create user accounts for all the users on my home network on every single computer. This works well with one small problem, each computer starts up with a welcome screen with every user listed, even though only one person really uses a particular computer. It's a small annoyance, but it bugged me a bit so I went out and searched out how to hide a user account in Windows 7 (this same tip will also work in Vista). If you have Windows XP just download TweakUI and their is an option in that free utility for hiding user accounts.

So here is a quick guide on how to hide a user account in Windows 7.

*IMPORTANT: before preceding,  know that if you hide your only administrator account you may have a very hard time getting back into your system as an administrator or logging on at all. So proceed with caution and make sure and then double check and make sure again that you are hiding the correct account and that you are not hiding your only administrator account. With that out of the way...see below...

How to Hide a User Account in Windows 7

1) Click on the start menu and type in regedit




2) Select "regedit" from the search results and click yes at the UAC prompt.

3) In regedit navigate to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\

4) Right click on the Winlogon folder and select "New" and then select "Key". Note your Windows 7 install may already have these keys that we are creating, in that case you can skip the next few steps.




5) Name the new Key: SpecialAccounts

6) Right click on the new "SpecialAccounts" Key and select "New" and then "Key"

7) Name this new Key: UserList

8) Now select the newly created "UserList" Key. In the right pane right click on an open area and select "New" and then select "DWORD (32-bit Value)"





9) Name this new DWORD the exact same name as the user account that you want to hide. So if the user you wish to hide is "joe", then name this value "joe"

10) Double click on the new DWORD that you created. A new window will open, set the value to "0" (the number zero no quotes) if you want to hide the user. You can set it to "1" if you ever want to unhide the account. Once you set the value click "OK" and close Regedit

The next time you reboot your computer you should notice that the user is hidden from the welcome screen. I tested this in the 64-bit version Windows 7 professional and the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate RC.



Sources:

IntelliAdmin: Hide user accounts in Windows 7

My Digital LifeHow to Create Hidden User Account

WinXPTutor's XP ResourcesHow do I show or hide an user account in the Welcome Screen?


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Telus to Eliminate System Access Fees

Starting November 5th Canadian wireless provider Telus will offer simple monthly plans that include everything in a single fee. Meaning their will not be any additional system access fees or 911 fees added to your monthly bill.

The new plans called "Clear Choice" will replace the existing "Your Choice " plans. Although these new plans eliminate the system access fee of $6.95 and the 911 fee of $0.75 they also raise the monthly fee by $5.00, but basic voicemail is also included on the new plans whereas on the old plans it was an extra charge.

All in all its a move in the right direction for consumers, even if it only means a savings of a few dollars a month. The main benefit to consumers is a simple "the price you see" is the "price you pay". No more seeing a great deal on a monthly plan and then seeing it go up by 30% after all the extras and system fees are added to the price.

Here is a link to Telus's description of it's new "Clear Choice" mobile plans.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Convert FLAC to MP3

Converting FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) to MP3 is a very simple process and one that can be performed using free software.

In this post I will show you the method that I use to convert FLAC files to MP3, but their are many other ways to convert a FLAC file to an MP3 using different software and most of them work equally well. This method is just what has worked reliably for me and given me excellent sound quality.

Convert FLAC to MP3 Using Foobar2000:

*Note: that most of these steps only need to be performed once, and once all the settings are in place and saved it becomes almost a two step process to convert FLAC files to MP3s.

1) You will need two pieces of free software to convert a FLAC file to a MP3 file. First click on this link and download the LAME encoder for Windows. Next, click on this link to download Foobar2000.

2) Unzip the LAME zip file and place the extracted Zip  folder in a location on your computer that you will remember.

3) Click on the downloaded Foobar2000 installer file and install Foobar2000

4) Run Foobar2000 after it has been installed

5) In Foobar2000, select "File" and then open up the FLAC tracks that you wish to convert.

6) Once your tracks have opened in Foobar they will show up in the playlist window. Highlight all the tracks that you wish to convert.

7) Right Click anywhere on the highlighted tracks and select "Convert".





8) A new window will pop up with a bunch of options. Under Output format you will see a list of a few built-in presets that Foobar2000 has provided. For conversion to MP3 you can select the  MP3 Variable Bit Rate of 190kbps. This preset will give you excellent sound quality. If you are happy with this preset than you can skip the next 5 steps and go directly to step 14. If you prefer to have your MP3 in a standard constant bit rate format than you will have to create a new preset. It's easy, just follow the next few steps.




9) To create a new preset select "More Settings" on the Converter Setup window.  A new Preferences window will open up. On this window click on the "Add New" button




10) Another window will open up called "Commandline Encoder Settings - New Preset". At the top of this window click on the drop down selection box and choose the "custom" option. You will notice that the options will now change in the window.





11) Under the Encoder section click on the browse button and locate the "lame.exe" file (it will be in the LAME folder that you unzipped in step 2). For all the other settings on this window you can copy the settings that I use from the screenshot below. These settings will convert your FLAC files to a 320kbps constant bit rate MP3. This gives you a CD quality MP3 file that 99% of the population can't tell the difference from the original source file.  If you want a smaller output file than you can change the number after the "-b" in the Parameters box from 320 to a lower bit rate (256, 128, or 64 are standard common bit rates).




12) After you have entered all your settings click "OK" and then click "Close".

13) You should now be on the "Converter Setup Page". Select your output format which will now include your new custom MP3 preset.

14) Below the Output format selection box are options for Output path, overwrite options and file naming  options. I like to name my tracks with "track #"-"Artist"-"track title" and if you do as well then you can copy the settings from the screen shot below, otherwise you can change this to whatever you wish.




15) Once you have selected all your options, just click "OK" and Foobar will start converting your FLAC files to MP3.

That's it!

Note:

- The above method will not transfer Album artwork from the FLAC file to the MP3 file, but all other ID3 tag information will be transferred.

- Once you have run through this process once, the next time you can just right click on a FLAC file in the playlist, select convert and choose "last used" and Foobar will use your last settings for file conversion.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Windows 7 vs. Vista

Since I have two laptops of similar specs, I decided to run a very unscientific experiment and make a Windows 7 and Vista compare video of the boot up of both laptops booting up at the same time. I installed one laptop with Windows 7 and the other with Windows Vista.

Both laptops have similar, but not the same specs...Both laptops are HP dv2000 14.1" laptops with 3gigs of RAM. The main difference being the Vista laptop has a 1.83ghz Core 2 Duo and the Windows 7 laptop has a 1.83ghz Pentium Dual Core.

Though in the video the boot-up times appear to be a tie, having used both operating systems I still feel that Windows 7 still feels faster and runs smoother than Vista.

Just my 2 cents!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Canada Mobile Wireless Internet Plans for Rogers, Bell, Telus and Fido

I thought I would put together some data comparing Bell, Telus, Rogers and Fido, the four largest cell carriers in Canada and the rates they charge for their mobile wireless internet using the new USB Internet sticks that are available through all these carriers.

After putting together all the data there isn't much difference between all four carriers when it comes to mobile wireless internet. So I am very much looking forward to seeing some new competition come in and hopefully drive some of these expensive data costs down.

Here are all four Canadian mobile wireless internet plans:

Telus Mobility

Fixed Data Rate Plans:

Monthly Fee
Included Data Usage
Cost per MB
$25.00
500 MB
$0.05
$30.00
1 GB
$0.03
$60.00
3 GB
$0.02

*Additional Data Rate: $0.05/MB

Flexible Data Rate Plans:

N/A - Telus does not offer flexible data rate plans


Bell Mobility

Fixed Data Rate Plans


N/A - Bell only offers flexible data rate plans


Flexible Data Rate Plans:

Monthly Fee
Included Data Usage
Cost per MB (max/min)
$30.00
Up to 500 MB
$0.06
$35.00
500 MB to 1 GB
$0.07/$0.03
$50.00
1 GB to 2 GB
$0.05/$0.02
$65.00
2 GB to 3 GB
$0.03/$0.02
$85.00
3 GB to 5 GB
$0.03/$0.02


Rogers Wireless

Fixed Data Rate Plans

Monthly Fee
Included Data Usage
Cost per MB
$30.00
500 MB
$0.06
$35.00
1 GB
$0.03
$65.00
3 GB
$0.02

*Additional Data Rate: $0.03/MB

Flexible Data Rate Plans:

Monthly Fee
Included Data Usage
Cost per MB (max/min)
$35.00
Up to 500 MB
$0.07
$40.00
500 MB to 1 GB
$0.08/$0.04
$55.00
1 GB to 2 GB
$0.05/$0.03
$70.00
2 GB to 3 GB
$0.03/$0.02
$90.00
3 GB to 5 GB
$0.03/$0.02


Fido


Fixed Data Rate Plans:

Monthly Fee
Included Data Usage
Cost per MB
$32.00
500 MB
$0.06
$37.00
1 GB
$0.04
$67.00
3 GB
$0.02

*Additional Data Rate: $0.03/MB

Flexible Data Rate Plans:

Monthly Fee
Included Data Usage
Cost per MB (max/min)
$37.00
Up to 500 MB
$0.07
$42.00
500 MB to 1 GB
$0.08/$0.04
$57.00
1 GB to 2 GB
$0.06/$0.03
$72.00
2 GB to 3 GB
$0.03/$0.02
$92.00
3 GB to 5 GB
$0.03/$0.02



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Remove "On behalf of Gmail" from outgoing Gmail Email

I use Google's Gmail as my central email account where I have all my email from various accounts sent to. This has worked great with just one minor problem. When you sent email from Gmail using another email account then Gmail added "sent on behalf of Gmail" to your outgoing email address. So the sender always knew you sent the email through a Gmail account.

Well there is now a solution, thanks to a recently added "send mail as" features to Gmail by Google.

Follow the steps below to eliminate the "on behalf of Gmail" from outgoing emails sent from your Gmail account...

1) On your gmail email page, click on the "Settings" link in the upper right hand corner of the Gmail inbox page.



2) Once in settings, click on the "Accounts and Import" tab.

3) Go to the "Send mail as" section and click on the "Send mail from another address" button.




4) A new window will pop up. Enter the name you wish to see on your outgoing emails and the email address that you wish to use for your "reply-to" address.




5) Click the "next step" button and a new window will open giving you a couple of options for how you want Gmail to have your mail sent out.  To have your email appear as though they were sent from your preferred email address with out the "on behalf of Gmail" select the second option "Send through "*****.***" SMTP servers".




6) If you selected the second option then a few more boxes will appear. This is where you have to enter your emails outgoing server information, and the username and password of the email address that you wish to send mail as (not your gmail username and password). If needed you may have to select the "always use a secure connection (SSL) when sending mail, but this depends on your email provider.

7) Click "Add account" and a final dialog box will appear asking you to enter a verification code that was sent to your email. Simply log into your other email account and copy and paste the code from the verification email into the the "verify" box, click verify and your done.




Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why is the Google doodle logo a bar code today?

So why is the Google doodle logo a bar code today? Well according to the Bar Code 1 web page, the first patent filed for a bar code reading technology was filed 57 years ago today (October 7th) by Norman Woodland and Bernard Silver.

Apparently neither Woodland or Silver profited much from this brilliant invention as they sold the rights to Philco who than sold the rights to RCA many years before it's first commercial use.

Here is a link to a PDF of the bar code patent filed by Woodland and Silver from the Bar Code 1 website.


Sources:

The Christian Science Monitor - Horizons Blog Post: Google bar code logo - Latest in "doodle" line

Bar Code 1 Web Site - www.adams1.com

Wikipedia Entry - Norman Woodland

Friday, October 2, 2009

Request an Invitation to Google Wave

Google is slowly opening up their new Google Wave to select Gmail users, but you don't have to wait for an invite from Google. With past Google beta programs I have found that if you request an invite, then Googlewill invite you to their beta programs very soon after you make the request.

So to request a Google Wave account, go to the Google Wave request an invitation page, enter your Gmail address and answer a few questions. Then just wait for Google to send you an invite, which should hopefully happen shortly.





Sunday, September 27, 2009

Merge Multiple PowerPoint Presentations into one File

Below are the steps that I use to merge multiple PowerPoint presentations into one single presentation. Their are a few different ways to accomplish this task, but the steps listed below are the ones that have worked well for me in the past.

Here are the steps...

1) First open up all the PowerPoint presentations that you want to merge into one show. After you have opened all your presentations you can either choose to create a new PowerPoint file or merge them into an existing file.

2) Open up any of your other presentations and select the "View" tab and select the "slide sorter" view.




3) Once in slide sorter, select the slides you wish to copy or press "Ctrl+A" to select all the slides.




4) Open the merged PowerPoint file.

5) Select where you want the new slides to go and press "Ctrl-V" to paste in the new slides. The copied slides will now be pasted into your new merged presentation, but if the slides have different templates or backgrounds you will notice that the newly pasted slides did not retain their original formatting. To maintain the pasted slides original formatting, select the small clipboard icon located in the bottom right hand corner of one of the newly pasted slides (see the screenshot below) and select the "maintain source formatting" radio button.




6) Repeat steps 2 to 5 until you have merged all your presentations into a single PowerPoint file. That's it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How to Setup Dolby Digital 5.1 Sound in VLC

Here's how to setup VLC media player for Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound output through your computer's coaxial or optical digital audio output:

1) Launch VLC and click on the "Tools" menu and select "Preferences".




2) Once on the "Preferences" page select the "Audio" tab on the left hand side of the page.



3) Place a check mark next to "Enable audio" and "Use S/PDIF when available".  For the "Force detection of Dolby Surround" setting choose Auto and under the "Output" section, choose "Win32 waveOut extension output" as output type. The rest of the settings are optional.                                                                                                      

4) Restart VLC and your done.

Add Speed Dial Button to Opera Toolbar

One of the best features of Opera is the speed dial page.  Unfortunately you can not set the speed dial page as your homepage, but you can set the speed dial to open when you start up the Opera browser or when you open a new tab. However, sometimes you may want to open the speed dial page from an existing tab without having to open a new one. You can easily accomplish this by adding a custom button to Opera's toolbar.

To add a custom speed dial to Opera's toolbar, do the following:

1.) Navigate your browser to the Drag'n'drop buttons for Opera webpage.

2.) Scroll down to the example section of the webpage where you will see two choices for a speed dial button. Either button will work, so the choice is yours.




3.) Click and drag one of the speed dial buttons to the Opera toolbar, click "ok" and you're done.





Sources:

Customizing Opera

Monday, September 21, 2009

Check Yahoo's Ymail Mail in Gmail by enabling POP3 for Free

In a previous post I talked about how to access Microsofts Hotmail in Gmail. Today I would like to show you how to check your Yahoo Ymail email using Gmail. Notice how I said "ymail" and not "yahoo.com" email addresses, this is because  this tip works for Yahoo's Ymail email accounts but not with their "yahoo.com"(or Yahoo's Rocketmail email service) email accounts.

When I tried it with a new "yahoo.com"  and a new "rocketmail.com" address I could not get it to work. Even if I tried the "channge Yahoo's regional settings for free POP3 access" trick, it still would not work. Yahoo would not give me the necessary POP3 access unless I signed up for their premium mail service and paid the $20 annual fee.

The good news is that Yahoo seems to have enabled pop3 access by default for Ymail.com email addresses. So here is how to access your Yahoo Ymail.com email for free in Gmail.

1.) Log into your Gmail account

2.) Click on "Settings" located in the top right hand corner of your Gmail page.



3.) Click on "Accounts and Import" and then click on the "Add POP3 email" button located in the "Check mail using POP3 section.




4.) A new window will pop up, enter your Yahoo Ymail address and click "Next Step".





5.) In this window enter the following settings, replacing "yourusername" with your full Ymail email address and "youruserpassword" with your password:

     Username: yourusername@ymail.com
     Password: youruserpassword
     Pop Server: pop.mail.yahoo.com
     Port: 995

Check the box next to "Always use a secure connection (SSL) when retrieving mail. All the other options are optional. After entering the above settings click the "Add Account" button.







6.) You will next be greeted by a screen asking you if you want to "send mail as" your new  "ymail.com" email address. If you click "No" then you are all done and you can now retrieve your Yahoo Ymail email using Gmail. If you click yes, then scroll down to step 7.




7.) Enter any name you wish in the name field, and click "Next Step"




8.) You will now come up to a screen giving you two options. Choose the first option "send through Gmail (easier to set up) and click "Next Step"




9.) Finally you will see a verification screen asking you to verify that you own the Yahoo Ymail address. Click on the "Send Verification button, and Google will send a verification email to your Yahoo Ymail email address.

10.) Log in to your Yahoo Ymail email address and look for the verification email that Google just sent. Open it and click the link in the email or copy the number listed in the body of the email, and paste this number into the verification box in Gmail and click the "Verify" button.

That's it, you can now check your Yahoo Ymail email in Gmail for free.


Sources:

Sajeev Nair

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sync Bookmarks in Google Chrome

For all you Google Chrome users, I saw this tip on the Google Operating System Blog, on how you can sync Google Chromes bookmarks. I tried this tip on two computers and the sync feature in Google Chrome worked perfectly. Please visit this blog post on the Google operating system blog for instructions.

Please note that this tip only works with the development version of Google Chrome. You can download the dev channel version of Google Chrome here.

Sources:

Google Operating System Blog

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Legal Use of Software or Website Screenshots

Since I have started writing this blog and publishing to the "public" internet, questions that I never really thought of before and took for granted have started to enter my mind. One of the questions I had was concerning the legal use of software screenshots in a blog or other public publication. I am not a lawyer and I do not really have the means to hire my own copyright lawyer so I headed off to Google to do some research into the use of  screenshots.

Generally screenshots of software or websites are covered by copyright, however in the U.S. there is a rule called "Fair Use" which allows for the criticism, review, news reporting, teaching and research of a copyrighted work without getting permission from the copyright holder. Wikipedia has an excellent entry about "Fair Use", and there is also a mention of copyright issues in regards to screenshots on the Wikipedia entry for screenshots.

Now copyright law is full of shades of grey and one persons interpretation of a law could be completely different from another, so if you want to play it really safe, just ask the copyright owner for permission to use their screenshots.  If you are using the screenshots as part of a "how to" tutorial then most of the time they would be thrilled for the free publicity, just be sure to be honest in how you will be using their screenshots.

If you do some searching on the internet then you may not necessarily have to go through the hassle of contacting the copyright owners for permission (especially larger software/internet companies). A lot of wise companies do not want to waste time on answering copyright requests and have posted guidelines for the acceptable use of screenshots on their websites. Below I have posted some summaries of Google's, Microsofts, Yahoo's and Abobe's screenshot policy.

Google Screenshot Policy:

Google takes a liberal common sense approach to use of their screenshots. Basically you can use them for illustrative or instructional purposes. From their website examples it appears that some minor alterations are acceptable (eg: you want to circle an area of a Google screenshot to highlight a feature).  You can not use them in a way that implies that Google endorses yourself or your products.  This is common sense. Their policy is fair for everyone and is another reason why I believe Google is a well run company.

Microsoft Screenshot Policy:

The guys from Redmond have a slightly more restrictive policy than Google. You are allowed to use their screenshots except if the use is obscene or pornographic and you can not use Microsoft screenshots for comparative advertising.  This is fair enough, but as you drill down further into their screenshot policy you find some more restrictions. You are not allowed to use screenshots of beta software. You can not use portions of a screenshot (this seems to be a common policy - why not?), you must include an attribution statement, stating Microsoft gave you permission to use your screenshots and you can not use screenshots that contain an image of an identifiable person (that's a good policy I think). Their are other restrictions as well and you can click the link above to read Microsoft's full policy.

Yahoo Screenshot Policy:

In a nutshell is very restrictive. You can not use screenshots of Yahoo products without first filling out their permission request form, and asking for their permission. Boo on Yahoo.

Adobe's Screenshot Policy:

Adobe's policy is very similar to Microsofts (maybe they hired the same law firm). According to Adobe's guidelines you can't use portions of a screenshot (again - why not?) without Adobe's permission. You can not use screenshots that contain third party images. The obvious no pornographic or obscene use.  You must attribute the image to Adobe, and you can not imply that Adobe sponsors you or supports you. Again their are others restrictions and you can click the link above for their full policy.

Now remember that corporate policy is not the same as legal law. Meaning that just because a company does not want you to do something does not mean that you can not legally do it.

I am definitely not a lawyer but I believe that most uses of screenshots on a blog that are used for instructional, illustrative or review purposes would fall under the "Fair Use" guidelines and requesting copyright permission is not required. This is just my laymen's interpretation. You should use your own judgement

Basically trust your gut and your morals. If your gut tells you are stealing someone else's work than save yourself the anxiety and don't publish it or ask the company for permission.

Hope this information was helpful.

Friday, September 11, 2009

How to remove old versions of Java

I heard a great tip on the MikeTechShow podcast and his sister podcast Tech-Vets on how to easily and quickly remove old versions of Java from your Windows computer using a simple little program called JavaRa.

To remove old versions of Java you can follow the Sun Microsystems Java removal instructions but all they basically say is to go into the Windows Add/Remove programs and uninstall it that way, but if you have several old versions of Java this can be a real pain. There is an easier way....

1.) Go to the RaProducts webpage and download the JavaRa Application. Find the downloaded application and unzip it.

2.) Click on the JavaRa program file (no installation is required), and a window with a selection of tasks will appear. Click on the "Remove Older Versions" button. A warning window will pop up, click "Yes" if you are sure you want to remove older versions of Java.

3.) Another window will open asking you to close Internet Explorer (this will appear even if IE is not open), just click "OK".

4.) A window will appear telling you what Java files it found and deleted, again click "OK" and JavaRa will tell you it will be opening a log file, though I have never seen a log file open., but thats ok...it's seems to get rid of most of the old versions of Java.

On my system it left a couple of Java files in my program list which I believe are the main Java program and the latest update. This is fine with me, and it beats having six or seven old versions of Java hanging out on your system.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Move Google Calendar to new Google Account

Over the past few weeks I have been setting up a new Google account to be used as my central hub for everything Google in my life. My old Google account was fine, it's just that I wanted a more professional user name and a username that more reflected my website. So I opened a new Google account and started investigating ways to transfer my contacts, my Picasa Web Albums and Google calendar over to the new account.

A few days ago I wrote a tutorial on how to transfer a Picasa Web Album account to a new Google account, and today I am going to show you how to move a calendar over to a new Google account.

Here is how to move a Google Calendar from one account to another:

1.) Sign into your old Google Calendar using your old Google account

2.) Click on the "Settings" tab.


3.) Under the "Settings" tab select the "Calendars" tab.


4.) Choose the calendar you wish to share, and select the "Share this calendar" link under the "Sharing" heading.

5.) Move down to the "Share with specific people" section and enter the email address of your new Google account. Under the "Permission settings" select "Make changes AND manage sharing" if you want your new Google account to have full administration privilages for this calendar, otherwise choose one of the more restrictive choices. Click "Save" to save your changes.


6.) Logout of your old Google account and login to your new Google account.

7.) If you wish to keep administration access for the calendar with the old account then you are done. Just go to the calendar section of your new Google account and the calendar will have automatically loaded in. If you wish to delete the old Google account from this calendar then you will have to go into your calendar settings in your new Google account, select the Calendars tab and then select the "Shared: Edit Settings" for the new calendar that you just transfered from the old account.


8.) Move down to the "Share with specific people"  section and click on the trash can next to your old Google account. That's it, you have now fully transfered your Google calendar to your new Google account.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Add the Weather to Google Calendar

I had seen this weather feature a few times in the settings section of Google Calendar, but I had never bothered enabling it, until today, and I wish I had done it earlier, it works great.

It gives you 4 days of weather for whatever city you specify (most likely your home town, but you can set it for anywhere you wish). The widget places a small weather icon on your calendar for the next 4 days and if you hover over the icon it gives you  more detailed weather information. If you click on the icon it gives you an even more detailed weather outlook. In a nut shell I like it....

Here is how you enable it for your Google Calendar.

1.) Click on the Google Calendar Setting button.

 


2.) Scroll down to the "Show weather based on my location" section and select "C" or "F" depending on what type of temperature system you use. Make sure you enter your location in the "location" section above the "Weather" section.

 


3.) Click the "Save" button located at the bottom of the Settings page and your done. Your calendar will now display the weather.

Add "Save as" PDF option to Microsoft Office

It's free and easy to add a "save as" pdf option to all Micorosft Office products. Here's how to add the pdf option to your Microsoft Office software.

1.) Open any Microsoft Office application such as Word or Excel.

2.) Click on the Office ball located in the upper left hand corner of the program. Move your cursor down to the "Save As" menu item and click it.

3.) Look for "Find add-ins for other file formats" in the menu selection (see image below) and click on it.

4.) A new window will pop up. In the section titled "What do you want to do?" select the "Install and use the Save as PDF or XPS add-in from Microsoft" link.

 

5.)  Yet another dialog box pops up. This time select the first menu item from the first section, under the link of "Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS Add-in for 2007".



6.)  After clicking the link it should take you to Microsoft Office's download page for the PDF writer add on. Click the download button on this page. When the Save dialog box pops up just instruct it to save it to wherever you wish on your local hard drive.

7.) After the PDF Microsoft Office Add on has finished downloading, find the file called "SaveAsPDF" and double click on it. If you are running Vista then click through the security warning.

8.) After clicking on the file you just finished downloading, a new window will pop up asking you to accept Microsoft's user aggreement.  Add a checkmark to the question at the bottom of the window telling Micosoft that you accept their user agreement.

9.) A new dialogue box will pop up telling you that the installation is complete, just click "ok" and your done.

Creating PDF's in Office 

Now that you have added the pdf plugin to Microsoft the next step is actually creating a pdf. This is the easy part and the only strange part is you don't use the "print" menu like you usually do when creating a pdf from a document, instead you use the "Save as" menu item.

Just go to the "Save as" menu and select "PDF or XPS" from the choices, save your file, and your done.

Feel free to email me with any questions.....

* Microsoft product screen shot(s) reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Transfer Picasa Albums to another Google Picasa Account

If you ever create a new Google/Gmail account and want to make this new account link up with your old Picasa Web Albums account from your old Google account than you will soon find out that it is not possible to transfer your Picasa account to a new google account....It is the same thing with Youtube. With Blogger it is easy to transfer blogs to a new Gmail accounts, same thing with Google Calendars. Even Yahoo lets you transfer a Flickr account to a new Yahoo account.

There is however an easy workaround to move your Picasa Web Albums to a new Google/Picasa account.

Here's how:

1.) If you have a Picasa account then you might have already installed the desktop version of Picasa. If not then you will need to download and install Picasa on your computer. You can download Picasa here.

2.) Startup your web browser and login to you old Picasa Web Albums account.

3.) Click on the Album you wish to transfer

4.) Click on the download tab located right above the photos, and select "Download to Picasa"

5.) Depending on the browser a dialogue box may pop up warning you that an external application must be launched. Just click agree, or yes, or launch application, to startup Picasa

6.) A new window will pop up from Picasa asking you if you want to download this album to your computer. Click "Download" and Picasa will open up and start downloading the album

7.) After Picasa has finished downloading the album it should automatically go to the album. If not you can find the downloaded Album in your Pictures folder under "Downloaded Albums" followed by your old Google username and then finally the albums title.

8.) To upload the album to your new Picasa account logout of your old account on both your browser and your desktop Picasa programs. On the desktop program you can see which account, if any you are logged into by looking at the far right hand corner of the application.

9.) Login to your new Picasa account in the Picasa desktop software.

10.) Find the album you just downloaded in the Album list on the left side of the program.

11.) Right click on the album and select "Upload to Web Albums"

12.) A dialogue box will pop up giving you a couple of choices....you can choose to upload the album as is or give the album a new name. I usually just keep the original name, but the choice is yours. You can also choose the image size, again the choice is yours. Finally you can choose from three different privacy options for your albums, Public, Unlisted, and Sign-in required to view.

13.) Click the Upload button and Picasa will upload the photos to your new Picasa account.

That's it....I have found that this method keeps all the original location data, titles and captions. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Add Gmail to Opera's Webmail "Mail to:" feature

I have used Opera for about a year or so, and the new Opera 10 is amazing. One of the neat features of Opera 10 is the way it handles mailto: links....you know those sometimes annoying links that you click and then the browser loads your default Email program....problem is a lot of people use webmail as their primary email client. So when you click one of those mailto: links instead of your webmail program opening up (which is what you want) a program like Windows Mail that you never use pops up, forcing you to copy and paste the address and then open your webmail program.

The way Opera handles mailto: links is, on the first email link you click on after a clean install of Opera the program will ask you if you want to use the default mail program, Opera mail or a webmail service like hotmail. Once you make your selection all the mailto: links you click to in the future will open up in your preferred email or webmail client.

The problem is Gmail is not among the list of web mail providers, but luckily you can add Gmail to the list by making a minor edit to a .ini file....

Here's how:

1.) Shut down Opera

2.) Navigate to C:\Program Files\Opera\defaults

3.) find the file "webmailproviders.ini" and open it in a text editor like notepad

4.) below the final line of text add these lines of code:

           [Gmail.com]
           ID=8
           URL=Https://mail.google.com/mail/?view=cm&fs=1&to=%t&su=%j&body=%m
           ICON=http://mail.google.com/mail/images/favicon.ico



           [Gmail]
           ID=8
           URL=https://mail.google.com/mail/?
           source=mailto&tf=1&view=cm&fs=1&to=%t&su=%j&body=%m&cc=%k&bcc=%l                 
           ICON=http://mail.google.com/favicon.ico


*I updated this code after getting some feedback that the original code would lock up. This new code came from user "eydaimon" who posted the fix for Gmail to Opera's mailto: feature on Jamie Martin's blog. Thank you Jamie & "eydaimon"

5.) Save the file and restart Opera....now you should be able to select Gmail as your defualt mail provider and whenever you select a mailto: link Opera will automatically open a compose mail page in gmail.

Sources:

misa.ufb.cz - Gmail as a webmail service in Opera 10 blog post
Jamie Martin's - Make Gmail The Default Mailto: Handler In Opera 10 blog postlog post

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Check Hotmail in Gmail

A few people who have migrated  from Gmail to hotmail have wondered if it was possible to have their old hotmail email's forwarded to their gmail account. Unfortunately hotmail can only forward email to other hotmail addresses, but there is another solution.

Recently Microsoft quietly enabled POP3 access for hotmail.....This means you can use Gmails mail fetch feature to go into your hotmail account and fetch your hotmail's email so you can check them in Gmail.

Here's how:

1.) Go into your gmails  settings, by clicking the settings link on the top right hand corner






2.) Click the Accounts and Import tab




3.) Scroll down to "Check mail with POP3" and click the "Add POP3 email account" button




4.) A pop-up window should appear, enter your hotmail address here and push "Next Step"




5.)  A new window will appear. Keep the username as is. Input your hotmail account password. Leave the use SSL box checked. The other check boxes are completely optional select them if you wish.




7.) Click the add account button

8.) A final window will pop up asking you if you want to send mail as your hotmail.com so that emails you reply to from your hotmail will partly look they came from your hotmail address and not your gmail...again the choice is yours






9.) If you select "no" than you can press the finish button....If you choose yes than you will have to follow the usual send mail as instructions...




10.) That's it....over the next few minutes you will slowly see your hotmail emails appearing in your gmail.  Hope this helps...send me an email if you have any questions....