Routine Order

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Virtual Desktops in Windows XP

January 19th, 2007 · No Comments

Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP: Virtual Desktop Manager: Manage up to four desktops from the Windows taskbar with this PowerToy. This is so cool – not!

There are so many other clones out there, little apps, some freeware, some not that provide the same feature – that of having more than one “desktop” in Windows.

Linux operating systems have had this feature for ages, and were it not for my multiple desktops, I would have lost sanity a long time ago. The windows “power toy” only shows you a list of four buttons on your taskbar – click the number to go to the desktop with that number, in Linux, you see small screencaps of the four virtual desktops, and in some window managers, you can drag and drop items from one virtual desktop to another using icons in the pager. You also can specify default virtual desktops for different applications and have all your startup programs to start in particular locations on the different virtual desktops.

Windows, apparently, has a little catching up to do in some areas, before it measures up to, say, Ubuntu.

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The New Seven Wonders of the World

January 18th, 2007 · No Comments

Jordan’s pink stone city Petra is now a candidate for being declared one of the new seven wonders of the world.

My curiosity stoked, I tracked down the other 20 candidates for the title of the new seven wonders of the world. The winning wonders will be announced on July 7, 2007 (07-07-07) by the New Open World Corporation (NOWC).

Familiar old wonders include the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza, the Stonehenge, and the Colosseum.

Did you know that USA Today and Good Morning America came up with a seperate list of the seven modern wonders that included the Internet as a “wonder”. There is also a list of the seven engineering wonders, which includes the Panama Canal and Toronto’s CN Tower.

Enough with the lists already.

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Seen a Killer App lately?

January 17th, 2007 · No Comments

If you take Peter Coffee’s word for the 25 Killer Apps of All Time, then you will end up with the astonishing fact that only about 10% of the greatest killer apps of all time have been developed in the last decade.

I call BS! A decade ago, the internet was slower than my dog, and less tentacled than an octopus. The guy must have had enough sense to call it the top 25 innovative, or path-breaking, or first-of-their kind apps. But the list is none of those, either.

And, of course, not one of those apps is a Linux App, though there are a lot of Windows-sepcific apps, and a whole OS – OSX. The last time I checked, an OS was significantly different from an app. This trend of almost anyone turning tech guru and throwing up lists is alarming – I hope the next year will bring with it a few less top-X lists.

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100% of the Clothes You Donate are Sold!

January 16th, 2007 · No Comments

The truth about where your donated clothes end up is an alarming read from abcnews.com. According to the story, less than 10% of the clothes received as donations are sold to local thrift stores. The rest are sold to textile recyclers. So make that 100% of the clothes that are received as donations being sold to either thrift stores or retailers.

It does not end there, however. The “recyclers” often don’t recycle the clothes. They sell them by the pound to exporters who export them to third-world countries, where the clothes fetch upward of 500% profit when sold to the poor folks. That is right, some guy in Bourkina Faso could be wearing your odl GAP jeans.

I have always find the premise of charity at Salvation Army’s auctions to be rather preposterous. If you have been one of their furniture auctions you will get to see very few poor people (truly deserving of charity) getting their hands on any of the items. Mostly there will be the well-dressed male or female buyer who reminds you of furniture sellers, or worse, yourself. So, in the name of charity those-that-don’t-really-need-it get a bargain, while those that do are left wondering where the hell to get essential stuff at the price they can afford.

This reaffirms the decision I took to not drop off old clothes at “charity” drop-offs. I usually put them up at the freecycle mailing list. Now freecycle is a unique service – there should be a mailing list for the city you live in. The idea is that you list the stuff you want to give away for free, and other freecyclers will come and pick it up from your house. I once gave away 5 mattresses left behind by old roommates, and beleive me, it went to a family of 7 who desperately needed it. The glow in their eyes was worth more than any amount I would have got at Salvation Army, or the Goodwill store.

Another option for those interested in giving for charity are local area charities associated with religious institutions where you deal with a person, and where you can make sure your donated items are redistributed for free locally. If you look hard you will find a variety of options. And, needless to say, don’t ever donate your car – I suspect Car Donations are the biggest scam since Frozen Waffles… more on that in a later post.

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Amazon Price Drop Watch Tool

January 15th, 2007 · 4 Comments

FrozenWarrior’s Amazon Price Watch tool just made me some money over the holidays. Much as I would like to keep saving more money, I thought I’d share this with my readers since your saving money does not, in this case, preclude my saving money — in other words the cake is infinite :)

So what does the service do? Simple, it watches the prices of items on Amazon.com and informs you if the price drops below a certain amount. So far so good. It gets better when you realize that amazon.com has a price drop guarantee, where, if the price of an item you purchase drops within 30 days of your purchase, they will refund you the difference!

This website is designed to check Amazon.com prices daily. If the price of your items drop, then you will receive a single message detailing the new price. If the price drops within 30 days of purchasing an item, you can request a refund for the difference. The e-mail you will receive when the price drops, has a link to the support pagewhere you can request your refund. This service is also very helpful if you wish to purchase an item, and you are willing to wait for a much better price.

So that’s the tip of the day for better living through saving, then!

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Dear Boing Boing: Please Link Responsibly

January 13th, 2007 · No Comments

Alright, I have to get this out of my brain before it explodes with a distinct, loud “Boing!”.

Why doesn’t Boing Boing link to external pages in a sane manner?

Take a look at the article about Betelnut Girls in Taiwan.

Stop. Right there. Now, I were Boing Boing, I would write that as follows:
Take a look at the article about Betelnut Girls in Taiwan Link.

Do you see it?

You don’t? Well, head over to the article and see how there is a “Link” at the end of every phrase, which links to what the phrase talks about. Make the phrase the link, dudes!

So instead of “A westerner tries betel nut Link” we will have “A westerner tries betel nut“.

This idea is not mine – it has been common knowledge for ages – it makes more sense to machines that try to comprehend the data that is the web, you see. There must be one solidly confused robot who hates going to boing boing on her rounds. “Oh! Those folks who have a single-word vocabulary for anything that’s not on their site. Not. Again!!!” I can hear the robot moan.

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Repair/Mend Your Favorite Old Jeans

January 12th, 2007 · 1 Comment

You know how you get emotionally attached to your old jeans, and then comes the day when the mom/wife/significant-other asks you to chuck them? Remember the hurt?

Hurt no more. The New-york based Denim Doctor is here. The definitive answer to the question, “How to mend my old jeans?”.

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Jhumpa Lahiri: Gogol in the Namesake

January 11th, 2007 · No Comments

Ever since I read the Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, I have been wondering why she chose the name “Gogol” for her main character. I found the answer today in an interview which is quite interesting in and of itself: Interview: Jhumpa Lahiri Speaks on “The Namesake”

The original spark of the book was the fact that a friend of my cousin’s in India had the pet name Gogol

Aha! We all know that Jhumpa was born “Nilanjana” and then became “Jhumpa” since a teacher liked her nickname better, or something like that. Seems that she wanted to replicate that in the Namesake.

So disappointing! I thought there was some mysterious thread that links Gogol with Google, or that really huge number, or something more esoteric!

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Gigoit: Reuse, Give/Get Stuff for Free

January 11th, 2007 · No Comments

Gigoit is a new website that promises to connect those with junk to throw away with those who need stuff, desperately, for free, for free. That is charity at its best.

You can list whatever it is that you have in your possession that you are about to throw away on the website, and hope to give it away to someone who can use it. Likewise, you can search for that thing you need within X miles of your zipcode and see if someone has listed that item to be given away for free.

This looks like the online, forum-based version of Freecycle. Freecycle mainly operates as local mailing lists, but there are advantages to a web-forum based method such as the one promised by Gigoit. I look forward to gigoit’s success – Americans throw out way too much useful stuff, really.

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MWSnap: Free Screenshot Capture Utility for Windows

January 10th, 2007 · No Comments

Mirek’s Free MWSnap Windows Software is a small yet powerful Windows program for snapping (capturing) images from selected parts of the screen.

The current version is capable of capturing the whole desktop, a highlighted window, an active menu, a control, or a fixed or free rectangular part of the screen. I find it very handy for creating presentations, tutorials etc. You can configure keyboard shortcuts for the different kinds of screenshots you take, and it will save the picture files in a directory with serial order numbers!

MWSnap also contains several graphical tools: a zoom, a ruler, a color picker and a window spy, and a fast picture viewer or converter. Installation is real simple, and it works beautifully – did I mention you can even minimize it to the system tray, so it’s running in the background – ready to take screencaps when you bid it to? MWSnap is freeware, so no bugging “register now” or “buy now” messages, ever!

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