Share Folders Free with Dropbox

A very useful tool I use, mainly for backing up online and sharing files within my own network , but it has the potential for much much more is Dropbox. Yes, there is an upgrade option, but you can use the free version very well. There is also an option to get more free storage space when someone you tell about Dropbox signs up.

So what does it do?  It lets you share your files and folders with others by sharing an existing folder on your PC or creating a new one to share. Once you add other members to the folder, it will appear in your friends or colleagues own Dropbox just as it does in yours. Any changes made to the shared folder’s contents will appear instantaneously to everyone who is a member of that folder. You can create a folder in your Dropbox folder just as you would anywhere else on your hard drive.Can you see the potential in this?

There are two ways to setup Dropbox, as a local application or online. The procedure is pretty much the same either way.

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Easily Add a Banner to Your Blog

Adding a banner to your blog, at the top, middle or bottom of posts or in a sidebar has always been very time-consuming and a bit of a fiddle for me. Today I’ve tried out the Max Banner Ads plugin from maxblogpress.com and it is so simple, a beginner could get banners up in no ti,e at all. See the banner at the top of my home page.

Apart from being able to choose the poition of the banner, you can also have rotating ads, so that when you refresh or re-visit the page, there is a different banner being shown. There are various ways to add the banner, from a URL or upload from your PC.  If you are promoting an affiliate product and they give you html or java code, you  just select the option “Other Text Ads / Flash / Javascript ….” and paste the code in. Easy as pie and I had mine done in less than 2 minutes.

The free version shows “Powered by Max Banner Ads” underneath. Although you can remove this if you purchase the Pro version, you can easily embed your clickbank hoplink, so worth considering leaving it there.

The help is very detailed and easy to understand – there are “How to…” pages for just about anything you could think of such as:

  • How to add banner to your blog
  • How to add Adsense, Adbrite and other (text, flash, Javascript) Ads
  • How to add ads at the sidebar of the blog
  • How to add multiple groups of ads in the same placeHow to show banner to certain pages only
  • How to show & rotate more than one banner in the same zone …….

The video on how to use Max Banner Ads and all the features is extremely well done, runs for over 9 minutes and goes into all the detail  including  you need to get going. All in all, I find this to be a highly recommended plug-in for people wanting to maximise both their promotions and their time. Doesn’t that include all of us?

Best wishes,
Trish

Bing Search Engine

Bing, Yahoo and Google

Now, while Google still has by far the greatest amount of traffic at approx 62%, the agreement by Yahoo & Bing (Microsofts new search engine) to share resources, means that when their respective search shares of approx 19% & 13% is combined, it will provide much bigger opposition to google.

So should this concern you? Probably not unless your business uses search traffic to make sales. Lets assume for a moment that it does. And did you know that facebook search is powered by Bing?

What can you do to increase search traffic to your sites from Bing? Well first of all, you can submit your site to Bing here and submit a sitemap here.

Bing has just released their updated Webmaster tools, not as comprehensive yet as google’s webmaster tools, but definitely a step in the right direction. Open an account to access these tools using your Windows Live ID (or create one if you don’t already have one).

To see how Bing crawls and indexes your pages, you can add your sites to your account. How to do this is set out quite well in the section “Add a Site to Your Account” under “Sites List”. You can only add your own sites and you must verify ownership before they can be added – you don’t want other people looking at your results!

The only hitch I encountered was adding verification to a wordpress blog that didn’t reside in a public_html folder so meant I couldn’t just upload  the xml file, as suggested in Option 1. Using Option 2, I had to search around my blog admin section to find the file containing the <head> tag. In fact, it didn’t have one just like that, but it did have an </head> in the file header.php, so placing the <meta> tag just before that worked fine .

If you need more details, proceed as follows:

In your wordpress admin area, click on Appearance, then on Editor. This will bring up an open file with the html code showing. Go to the list on the right hand side under Templates and find Header (header.php) & click on this file. Now, have a look in this file for  </head>  something like this:

<?php wp_head(); ?>
</head>

Now paste the meta tag code copied from Bing in between these two lines and then click the Update File button at the bottom. Go back to Bing webmaster tools now and verify your site.

Newly added sites will take up to three days to begin showing data, assuming they are getting some traffic, of course.

Hope this helps someone.

Regards

Trish

7 Simple Ways To Speed Up Windows XP

I’m sure we have all complained that our PC is slowing down at some stage, so perhaps some of the tips here can help in your own particular case. They are all fairly simple, designed for beginners to implement if you follow the steps given.

1. Defrag Your Disks to Speed Up Access to Data

One of the factors that slow the performance of the computer is disk fragmentation. When files are fragmented, the computer must search the hard disk when the file is opened to piece it back together. To speed up the response time, you should monthly run Disk Defragmenter, a Windows utility that defrags and consolidates fragmented files for quicker computer response.

* Follow Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter
* Click the drives you want to defrag and click Analyze
* Click Defragment

This may take some time, so perhaps leave a defrag running overnight or while you do something away from your PC.

2. Detect and Repair Disk Errors

Over time, your hard disk develops bad sectors. Bad sectors slow down hard disk performance and sometimes make data writing difficult or even impossible. To detect and repair disk errors, Windows has a built-in tool called the Error Checking utility. It’ll search the hard disk for bad sectors and system errors and repair them for faster performance.

* Follow Start > My Computer
* In My Computer right-click the hard disk you want to scan and click Properties
* Click the Tools tab
* Click Check Now
* Select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box
* Click Start

3. Disable Indexing Services

Indexing Services is a little application that uses a lot of CPU. By indexing and updating lists of all the files on the computer, it helps you to do a search for something faster as it scans the index list. But if you know where your files are, you can disable this system service. It won’t do any harm to you machine, whether you search often or not very often.

* Go to Start
* Click Settings
* Click Control Panel
* Double-click Add/Remove Programs
* Click the Add/Remove Window Components
* Uncheck the Indexing services
* Click Next

4. Optimize Display Settings

Windows XP has a nice visual appearance but it costs you system resources that are used to display all the visual items and effects. To customize your settings, right click My Computer, select Properties and then the Advanced tab and under Performance, click Settings. Windows looks fine if you disable most of the settings and leave the following:

* Show shadows under menus
* Show shadows under mouse pointer
* Show translucent selection rectangle
* Use drop shadows for icons labels on the desktop
* Use visual styles on windows and buttons

5. Speedup Folder Browsing

You may have noticed that every time you open My Computer to browse folders that there is a little delay. This is because Windows XP automatically searches for network files and printers every time you open Windows Explorer. To fix this and to increase browsing speed, you can disable the “Automatically search for network folders and printers” option as follows:

Click Start, and then click Control Panel, Double-click Folder Options and on the View tab, de-select the “Automatically search for network folders and printers” check box.

6. Optimize Your Pagefile

You can optimize your pagefile. Setting a fixed size to your pagefile saves the operating system from the need to resize the pagefile.

* Right click on My Computer and select Properties
* Select the Advanced tab
* Under Performance choose the Settings button
* Select the Advanced tab again and under Virtual Memory select Change
* Highlight the drive containing your page file and make the initial Size of the file the same as the Maximum Size of the file.

Windows XP sizes the page file to about 1.5X the amount of actual physical memory by default. While this is good for systems with smaller amounts of memory (under 512MB) it is unlikely that a typical XP desktop system will ever need 1.5 X 512MB or more of virtual memory. If you have less than 512MB of memory, leave the page file at its default size. If you have 512MB or more, change the ratio to 1:1 page file size to physical memory size.

7. Remove Fonts for Speed

Fonts, especially TrueType fonts, use quite a bit of system resources. For optimal performance, trim your fonts down to just those that you need to use on a daily basis and fonts that applications may require.

* Open Control Panel
* Open Fonts folder
* Move fonts you don’t need to a temporary directory (e.g. C:\FONTBKUP?) just in case you need or want to bring a few of them back. The more fonts you uninstall, the more system resources you will gain.

Hope you find these tips useful.
Best wishes
Trish


Using E-Cards Safely

If you send or receive e-cards (electronic greeting cards), you may not think too much about whether they are safe for your computer or not. They are free and fast, making them a popular and convenient alternative to traditional greeting cards.

To send an e-card, you simply go to an e-card site, choose a card from a number of different categories, and then send it off to your recipient with a personalized greeting. Some of the more well-known companies are Hallmark, 123Greetings, American Greetings or Blue Mountain, but it’s worth doing a search as you’ll find many great e-card sites specialising in topics such as sports and nature & also charity e-cards.

Receiving an e-card is fun too. Often, these cards come equipped with short video or music clips. Millions of people receive e-cards for special days like Christmas, Easter and personal birthdays every year.

E-cards are created the same way Web sites are; they’re built on the Internet just like this page. So when you send someone an e-card, you’re actually giving them a link to click, which takes them to the online greeting card you created for them.

Not all e-cards are harmless cards, though; some may contain viruses, spyware, adware, phishing attacks or spam. At best, this is annoying and can involve pop-ups, lots of unwanted junk mail, or other minor disturbances. At worst, these viruses can crash your system or hack into your email contacts.

There are a number of ways you can protect your computer from unwanted surprises that come in the form of e-cards. The following are some tips for online safety for e-cards.

Know what to look for:

The best way to be safe from online viruses is to keep your eyes out for anything suspicious. A good indication an e-card is not legitimate includes:

  • There are misspelled words or names. The inclusion of non-letter characters such as * @ # $ % , if your name is misspelled, words are spelled with letters in the wrong order such as “Best Wsihes” or are misspelled in other ways, there is a possibility that it is spam or a virus.
  • Make sure you recognize the sender’s name before clicking on any links. The sender should always be recognizable, either in the subject line or the e-mail itself. People don’t normally send e-cards to strangers, so you should probably avoid opening e-cards from anyone you don’t know.
  • The e-card has an attachment. Most e-card companies that are legitimate don’t put their e-cards as attachments. Rather, they have a link you follow to the company’s website that takes you directly to the card. By downloading attachments, you can unknowingly be downloading a virus or other type of unwanted intrusion onto your computer.
  • Be cautious. If you have any suspicion that the e-Card you have received is fraudulent do not open, and do not click on any links within the e-mail if you do. Legitimate e-mails will always give you the option to pick up the e-Card by typing in the address of the Web site, rather than clicking on the link.
  • Preview a link’s Web address before you click it. If the link doesn’t show an address, move your mouse pointer over a link without clicking it to see where the link goes. (The address should appear on the bottom bar of your Web browser.)

Keep your anti-virus & firewall etc software up to date.

You should also have anti virus software, a firewall, anti-spyware and anti-adware installed on your computer to help to detect threats and protect your. In most cases you can get all these programs free, but they do need to be updated and run regularly to give you the best protection. Spyware and adware not only compromise your computer’s security, they will often slow your system down.

Read fine print and terms of service.

If you receive an e-card that has a check box saying you agree to their terms of service, be sure to read the fine print. If you are like most people, you simply check the I Agree box without even looking at the print. This can be a big mistake, because with spam e-cards, you might be agreeing to have them download spyware or adware or even to have access to your computer’s address books.

When in doubt, delete.

If something doesn’t look right, such as the name of the sender or vague subject lines, just delete the card. It’s better to safe than sorry.

E-cards are fun to receive and send, as long as you’re careful when doing so. The above tips will help you be safe online with e-cards.

Computer Crash! Prevent Loss of Your Valuable Data

Have you ever had a computer crash and all your data was lost?

Most likely your computer’s hard drive failed & this happens more frequently than we’d like and for all sorts of reasons. Another major risk to your data is fire, flood or theft. The following strategies will help you to protect and recover your data.

Although the software files for the programs that run on your computer is also data, you don’t need to back that up as it is easily recoverable from the installation disks you received when software is purchased.

The data that we will focus on is “user” data specifically, the data that you create from the software programs that run on your computer.

For example, if a word processor is used to create a document or a letter, the word processor provides functions to save this data. The data that is created and saved through the word processor is “user” data. Most programs will create and save data somewhere on the hard drive.

There are many kinds of user data that are usually stored on the hard drive, do you have some of these?

  • letters you write in a word processors
  • flyers / posters for your clubs
  • business cards
  • spreadsheets
  • greeting cards you’ve made
  • accounting data from a money management program
  • picture files
  • music files
  • video files
  • email and email addresess

This is not a complete list, but to give you an idea of what you might have created and could lose if your computer crashed or in a fire or theft. Most people do not pay enough attention to this basic fact about computer systems until it’s too late. Don’t let this happen to you!

Remember, the key is “prevention” and in order to prevent loss of valuable data you must be prepared, so let’s look at some basic backup plans.

Option 1: Save your data to CD or DVD disks
This is by far the cheapest option and a very good approach to securing user data, especially if you don’t have too much. All that is needed is a CD or DVD burner and some blank disks, which cost very little these days.

When using this option, make two copies so that one of the copies can be stored off site, to protect you against fire, flood & theft. Another reason is that a CD or DVD backup can also become corrupted & it’s better to have two or more copies.

Option 2: Use a memory stick (USB stick)
This will cost a bit more than option 1, but USB sticks are getting cheaper & cheaper all the time, and holding more data as well. One advantage is how small they are and easy to carry around. I bought a waterproof one when they first came out for my client’s data and was very glad I did so, as it went through the wash twice and still worked fine! (I did have other backups though & I still use that drive today!.)

Option 3: Consider having two internal hard drives, especially if you have a lot of user data, especially big pictures or music files.

Most home computers generally all come with only one internal hard drive, which stores both software and user data. This means that this one single hard drive is experiencing a lot of wear and tear. Every time a program is launched it’s being accessed. Every single function that the operating system invokes will likely hit the hard drive etc. This heavy wear and tear can eventually lead to physical failures.

Also, many viruses are designed to hit the operating system & if the user data is on the same physical drive as the operating system, then it can be severely impacted by viruses as well. The disadvantage of this method is that it doesn’t protect you from fire, flood or theft, etc, but it is probably the easiest way to automate backing up your files.

Option 4: Attach an external USB Hard Drive to the system

With the price of hard drives getting much cheaper, this is another really good option. By attaching an external USB hard drive to the system, special backup programs can be installed and scheduled to run over night. There are many cost effective backup programs available. Some will be built into your operating system and others are available free – search on the internet and you’ll find plenty of options. The advantage of the external drive is that your work is still physically separated from the main hard drive and can be taken off-site with you.

Option 5: Online backup service
The services are fairly inexpensive (typically about $5 a month), and the best ones won’t noticeably slow down your PC use or Web browsing (after the initial large upload, at least). They also encrypt your data before, during, and after it’s been sent to industrial-strength servers. There are no discs or USB drives to worry about, either. The service can start processing and uploading files automatically on a schedule or in the background when there are enough free cycles available.

How often should you make backups?

This really depends on what your data is. If you are only using your computer for emails and writing letters, perhaps once a week is sufficient. When you’re doing work for someone else, it’s wise to keep doing incremental backups as you go, every ten minutes, every hour perhaps. It’s a decision you need to make for your personal circumstances. I personally do my backups before I go away from my work area and every night. The main thing is, remember to DO IT!

Summary

  • You need to backup your user data in case of computer crash or fire or theft
  • Back-up frequently, as often as needed to make it easy to restore your work to where you were
  • Use at least two different methods
  • Keep one copy of your backup data away from the computer (prevent loss if fire or theft)

Hopefully this helped you become more aware of the importance of your data and the need to back it up.

The options presented here are the very same methods used by many highly experience data processing centers and can be easily adopted by the average computer user. The most important point to remember is that good planning for potential disasters is the best protection against loss of valuable user data. You may not think of it this way at first but the user data that you accumulate on your computer takes time to build up and acquire.

If you value your time then you’ll value your data. Your data has a lot of value. So why not take a few simple steps to protect it.