Issue #47 December 9 2003

1. Access to desktop from TaskBar

Many times I will be working on something and need to access an application on my desktop to look something up. Then I have to minimize all my open windows to get to the desktop. I thought there must be an easier way, and it turns out there is. I saw this idea first in the WUGNET newsletter (www.wugnet.com). It creates a Desktop toolbar in your taskbar at the bottom of the screen which then allows you access to the program on your desktop without minimizing open applications. To put the Desktop Toolbar on your taskbar, right click on your taskbar and click on Toolbars and click on Desktop. This will put a new Desktop icon in your taskbar. It is a good idea to resize the new toolbar so that all you see is the word Desktop - you can do this by grabbing the left edge of the toolbar in the taskbar and dragging it to the right until only the Desktop word is shown. Now a double right arrow is shown beside the word Desktop and when you click on the double right arrow, a menu of all applications on your desktop pops up, allowing you to start any of them with a single click. You can also access any file on your computer by clicking on the My Computer icon from this menu and navigating to the file. This has allowed me to reduce the number of icons I have in my Quick Launch toolbar since I can easily access my less frequently used applications.

2. Long links

You may have noticed in e-mails that when a link to a web page gets too long, the link wraps to the next line and then the ability to click on the text link does not work since the entire link is not a single text string. You may also have noticed that I overcome this problem by using a very cool utility called TinyURL. At http://tinyurl.com, you can enter the long link string and they will generate a short string that you can use instead. If you are using Internet Explorer, it even copies the link to your clipboard so you can paste it into your e-mail right away. When someone clicks on this short string, it takes them automatically to the long link without any delay, ads or other annoying behavior. And the links have no expiry date, so they work forever. If you have a long link that you need to send to someone via e-mail, check out TinyURL - I think you will agree it is one of the best web tools around. Oh, and one other thing about it - in keeping with my desire to be cheap and lazy, this valuable service is provided at no cost to you or those who click on the link! Check them out.

3. Useful Resource - Great Gift for Travellers

Christmas is just around the corner and I have a great gift for travellers who want to stay connected. It is from Roadwired and it is a small item I picked up while passing through Chicago's O'Hare airport this summer. Those of us who travel frequently need to be able to connect to telephone lines and to Ethernet connections regularly and end up carrying both cords with us. Roadwired offers a great combination device. It is a retractable combination Ethernet and phone cord. It retracts into its own hard sided case which is slightly larger than a deck of playing cards. It has Ethernet connectors on each end of the flat cable so you can hook up to a high-speed connection at an office or a hotel. But the genius is that it also includes adapter ends to turn the Ethernet connectors into standard phone plug ends so you can connect to a phone line when required. And the best part is that the adapter ends fit together and slip into one end of the case, so everything is all together and does not get lost. I have used mine in client sites, airports and hotels for both high-speed and dial-up connections and it has been flawless. If you have a traveller on your Christmas gift list, this would make a great gift. Heck, if you are a traveller, get one for yourself and wrap it up! Here is a link to the product on the Roadwired.com web site: http://tinyurl.com/ye30 (See, I used tinyurl.com for this long link!)