Need a Free Email Marketing Tool?

August 5th, 2013 No comments

mailchimp.comIf you only have less than 2000 subscribers, you can get a free email marketing tool through mailchimp.com.  It is easy to set up, and did I say it’s free if you have less than 2000 subscribers?

Note that the free version even allows for 12,000 emails per month.  It’s free forever!

How to Virtualize and Access Your CD Library

January 3rd, 2013 No comments

With the price of USB disk drives at an all time low, it makes more and more sense to convert your library of CDs into ISO images and access them digitally.

Note all this is applicable to Windows based computers.

ImgBurn:  Create ISO Images

ImgBurn: Create ISO Images

Virtual CloneDrive

Virtual CloneDrive (source: www.virtual.cd)

To virtualize your library of CDs, you’ll need a program like ImgBurn  (the official ImgBurn site is at http://www.imgburn.com/ if you wish to learn additional details about it) to convert your CDs into ISO images.

After you convert your library of CDs into ISO images, you’ll need a program to virtually load or mount them.  For this a program like Virtual CloneDrive will do the job.

YUMI: A USB Multiboot Creator

January 3rd, 2013 No comments
YUMI:  USB Multiboot Creator

YUMI: USB Multiboot Creator (source:  pendrivelinux.com)

I don’t know what YUMI stands for, but one thing for sure this tool is the greatest tool created for us mere computer mortals.  Note that YUMI is a from Pendrivelinux.com, and it is FREE.

With YUMI you can take a simple USB flash drive and turn it into your portable boot-able operating system of your choice.

Personally, I find this tool perfect for recovering a  forgotten local administrative password on a computer, or for recovering data from a boot drive where the operating system is no longer boot-able.

To use it, you need a Windows XP/Vista/7 computer to download and run the YUMI utility.  You then need to build a multiboot USB flash drive using it by specifying the drive letter where the flash drive is.

In building the multiboot USB flash drive, you will need at least one ISO image of whatever it is you want to boot to.  Say for example you have a Trinity Rescue Kit ISO image, and you want to use that to help you recover data from a non-boot-able computer (maybe because OS is corrupted).  When you run YUMI, you will need to specify an ISO image, like below:

Selecting a Distrbution ISO Image in YUMI

Selecting a distribution ISO Image in YUMI

If you don’t yet have the ISO image, you can check the option “Opted to Download the iso.”  After the ISO image is downloaded, you can go to the CREATE phase.  Also, before creating, make sure you have the correct USB device selected.

That is pretty much it.

 

Free Cloud Storage Everywhere!

June 18th, 2012 No comments

Cloud Storage (photo credit: Forlanda)

I’ve meant to write about this for some time.  Now is as good a time ever, especially with the recent release of Google Drive.

As of this writing, you can get several Gigabytes of cloud storage for free.  Yes “FREE”.  Everyone likes free, and this article will list several places where you can get anywhere from 2GB to 7GB of free space.

These sites offer free storage in the “cloud”:

There is another cloud storage solution called the Adrive  which provides 50GB free.  This is not a typo, it is 50GB of free storage, web interface only though with ads.  There is an app for it on Android OS, but it’s not free.

Each solution below supports the following platforms:
  • Dropbox:  Microsoft Windows, Windows Phone, Apple iOS (e.g. iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), Apple Mac, Android OS
  • Skydrive:  Microsoft Windows, Windows Phone, Apple iOS (e.g. iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), Apple Mac
  • Google drive:    Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac, Android OS
  • Amazon cloud drive:  Microsoft Windows, Apple iOS (e.g. iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), Apple Mac, Android OS
  • Apple’s iCloud:  Microsoft Windows, Apple iOS (e.g. iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), Apple Mac
 Sign up for cloud storage now if you don’t have one.

Word of advice…only put files there that aren’t confidential in nature, or information you cannot afford to lose.  Also backup your cloud files to a separate external USB drive.  It will help ensure you aren’t caught unprepared if your cloud storage provider all of a sudden dissolves.

Are you using other cloud storage solution?  If so, please share.

Mind Map: 3 Awesome Ways to Use It

March 21st, 2012 No comments

I learned about mind mapping over two decades ago.  Within the last year, it has recently come back into the scene, at least my scene.

If you are not sure what “mind mapping” is, then this is your opportunity to learn something new.  If you already know what it is and were taught to use it a certain way, you may be surprised of its other applications.

In this article, I will cover three (3) awesome ways you can use and apply Mind Mapping.  In discussing these mind mapping applications, I will cover the following areas:

  • What is mind mapping?
  • What tools exist and where can I find them?
  • What are the three awesome ways to apply it?

Mind Mapping, What Is It?

Basically, a mind map is a way to represent ideas or information where the connections or relationships between the various information is represented in a visual way. The collection of ideas all revolve around a central idea, represented by one or more words.  The act of doing this is called mind mapping.

The image below is an example of a mind map.

Example of a Mind Map

Example of a Mind Map (click for full view)

Tools That Exist and Where to Find Them?

There are many tools that exists out there to help you create mind maps using your computer.  There are two that I have personally used–both free and with wide range of platform support.

  • Freemind – open source product, available at http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page.  I personally use this on my Windows 7 laptop.  It is very high quality and certainly does the job.
  • Mindjet – this is a free product as well; it is available on various platforms including tablets (iOS or Android based); it is available through their respective app stores

Three Awesome Uses

The original intent of mind mapping was to map ideas and how they connect/relate to each other.  That hasn’t changed, but it can be used from a  slightly different perspective, making it an indispensable tool.  Below are three awesome applications for this tool:

  • Brainstorming–out of ideas?  use a mind map to come up with new ideas
  • Taking Notes–it doesn’t have to be as linear as traditional notes; makes for easy review
  • Project Planning–if you don’t want to miss crucial project details, use a mind map

Brainstorming

I do a lot of writing.  When I want to write about a particular topic, sooner or later, I run out of things to write about.  When I discovered mind mapping as a brainstorming tool, I no longer experience this problem, because the best way to come up with new ideas and other ideas related to it is to brainstorm using a mind map.
Give it a try and you’ll see how well it works.  Believe me it definitely works.  Through mind mapping, a topic which seems pretty limited will quickly open up into various areas you may not have ever thought about.  When you mind map, new ideas can easily come to mind because you are forced to think of other things related to the topic at hand.
Here’s an example of a mind map I built to help me figure what to write on a topic related to “casual running”.
Running Mind Map
At first I thought I didn’t really have much to write about, but then after doing a mind map, I can see that I have more than enough topics to write about.

Taking Notes

Traditional note taking can be messy.  On top of that, the act of jotting down information the old fashion way is very linear.  This means if I want to add another piece of information into my notes, I would have to figure a way to squeeze it into my hand written notes.  If I’m using a note taking program, I would have to find the line where i want to insert it and type it in.  Finding that line might take a bit of time.
Now, try taking notes using a mind map!  Whether you do it by hand or using an application, the experience is totally different.  I personally feel like it doesn’t matter if I missed jotting down something in the early parts of note taking, because I know can quickly find the place where I want to insert it when the time is right.  I certainly don’t want to miss key information during note taking when I get busy trying to figure out where to put a bit of information; and this can easily happen using the traditional methods; but not as easily on a mind map.
Anyway, with a mind map you can start at the center of the page with the central idea.  From there, bits of information can be connected in a radial way.  Although nothing is linear, it has a clear structure.
I’ve personally have done this during a webinar.  It works great!

Project Planning

What is the one thing that worries you the most when project planning?  For most of us, it is the thought of missing a critical piece of the overall project.
The act of using a mind map helps draw out all aspects of a project.  There is just no way around that.  When you start mind mapping, ideas can flow from map nodes that already exists; in other words, existing information can help trigger the thought of  related or relevant information or activity.
Below is an example of a mind map for a desktop deployment project:
Project Mind Map

Project Mind Map

Conclusion

Mind mapping is the act of using a mind map to graphically draw out an idea or concept.  It is a very versatile tool.

You can do this by hand, but there are many tools out there that can facilitate the creation and saving of mind maps.  The two free tools mentioned here are MindJet (for Android) and FreeMind.

A mind map is not simply a tool for mapping concepts and ideas, but can easily be adapted in various ways.  Three awesome and very practical applications of it are:

  • Brainstorming
  • Taking notes
  • Project planning

How have you applied mind maps?

How to Deal with Scare Ware

February 19th, 2012 No comments

Have you ever browsed the web then suddenly noticed that your computer is telling you it is infected with all kinds of virus and malware?  And here’s the funny thing…you didn’t even know you had this particular antivirus program!

Here’s another funny thing.  If you opt to fix the infection, it asks you to buy a program.

Don’t fall for it.  Instead turn off  your computer right away (hard power off–hold power down for at least 10 seconds) .  Why?  Because you want to stop your computer before the virus or malware embeds itself in startup process; this will make the malware persistent between computer reboots!

Once you’ve turned off you computer you can do one of the following things:

  • Scan your computer in safe mode.
  • Initiate the recovery of your computer
And for your other computers, you may want to begin backing them up, if they get infected in the future.

Scan In Safe Mode

Turn your computer on in “Safe Mode”.  Do this by pressing F8 a few seconds after you power on but before any sign of Windows shows up on your screen.  In Windows Safe Mode, your computer just runs the bare essentials of the operating system.  So even if the malware was able to embed itself into your computer, it would just lay dormant.

Now do the following to begin finding and removing the pesky virus or malware:

  1. First, using another computer, download the latest Microsoft Malware Removal Tool.  Use a thumb/flash drive to transfer and run it to the infected computer.  Hopefully it detects and removes the malware.  If not, continue to the next step.
  2. Next, if you have an antivirus software, run it and do a full scan of your computer.
  3. If you don’t have an antivirus software, see if you can download one using another computer and use a flash or thumb drive to transfer the program installer to the infected machine.  Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE)  antivirus is free, and could easily suffice for this purpose.  Use it to do a full scan of your computer.
  4. Finally, using another computer download Malware Bytes, and transfer it to the infected machine using a thumb/flash drive.  Like MSE, Malware Bytes is also free.  Install it then run a full scan of the infected computer.  Malware Bytes is one of the best detector and remover of fake antivirus.
  5. If none of the above detect and remove any virus or malware, then you may have to start the built-in recovery process–the last resort.

Initiate The Recovery Process

When you buy a new computer, it normally comes with a separate drive which holds a copy of the manufacturer’s base image of the original computer.  Each computer model has its own way of reaching the recovery process.  There are three types of recovery methods in order of impact severity (low to high).

  1. Re-install the operating system using the recovery volume
  2. Re-install the operating system using the recovery volume drive image

    Recovery on an HP Ultrabook Folio 13

    Recovery options for the HP Ultrabook Folio 13

  3. Re-install the system, C drive, and recovery volume using backups you made long ago

Re-installing the operating system using the recovery volume has the least impact of all.  It retains your data, but restores the operating system to its pristine state; however, you’ll still need to install your programs.

Re-installing the system using the recovery volume drive image completely overwrite drive C on your computer.  You will lose any data (documents, pictures, videos, etc.) you ever stored on drive C.  Make sure you do this only as a last resort.

If the recovery volume is damaged, you will need to restore the system, drive C, and the recovery image using the backup you made long ago.  Hopefully you created one.  If you have other computers, I suggest backing them up before the same thing happens to them.

 Creating a Backup Image for a Computer

A backup image is an exact copy of your system, drive C, and possibly your recovery drive.  On Windows 7, you can start the backup image creation process through the control panel.

Backup and Restore

Backup and Restore: Creating a Backup Image on Windows 7

Next select System and Security, then Backup and Restore.  From there, look at the left column and click Create a system image.  The video below illustrates how this is done.

If you’ve been infected by fake ware, please share us your experience below.

Free Online Training: Grovo.com

February 5th, 2012 No comments
Grovo.com course tracks

Tracks available on grovo.com

In today’s technology rich world, there are many tools available to everyone.  Yes, everyone is using it, but not to their full potential.  Tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube are some of the more well-known Internet tools or applications out there.  You can learn them on your own by buying a book, or simply doing your own experiment by hunting and pecking at the various options there.  Or you can go to a site like grovo.com and get free online computer based training.

I opt for grovo.com.

Here’s why:

  • It’s free (or you can upgrade to a premium plan, but free will serve most people’s needs)
  • It’s always available and it tracks your progress.
  • They have course tracks which are groups of courses designed to help you in a particular area of interest (e.g. blogging, social networking, beginning Internet, and so on)
  • Include quizzes to test what you’ve learned.
  • Best of all, it’s free!  Oh yeah, I already mentioned that.

The courses are accessible from any computer or tablet.  I didn’t notice any apps for the android or iPad, but I’m sure that isn’t very far behind.

I’m not trying to sell Grovo.com, but I like anything free.  Check it out.  Right now I’m in the Twitter track.

Are you using Grovo.com to improve yourself?  If so, which track are you in?

Free Tech Support? Absolutely!

January 22nd, 2012 No comments
techguy.org

techguy

I found a web site that provides absolutely free tech support.  The site is called techguy.org.  They’ve been around since 1996, and they seem to have a large membership group of around 450,000.

The free part comes from the fact this site is sponsored by ads and is mainly supported by people like you.  Through forums, people with various issues can post their  problem, and another user who may have the answer posts their answer back.

Since they’ve been around since 1996, they have amassed a lot of problems and solutions that may be applicable to your situation.  Be advised though since technology changes at an extremely rapid pace, having been around the Internet that long may not give them the advantage.

Their strength really comes from the large membership.  For example, I did a search on “fake antivirus”.  The search result came back with over 5000 results.  I checked one of the responses and most of them are pretty detailed.

Give their site a try.  I know I will on occasion just to see what I can find.

Evernote, An Awesome Cloud Tool

December 13th, 2011 No comments
Best note taking app

Evernote, Best note taking app

I’ve use a lot of note taking tools in my life, including the tried and true notepad and pen.  Nothing have come close to the perfection of Evernote.  Why do I say this?  Well, read on and find out.

What’s wrong with traditional note taking apps and tools?  The very biggest problem with them is that they cause your data to be in one physical location, vulnerable to being lost.  The other problem is that sometimes, you never really have access to that same tool; then, your notes become fragmented and out-of-order.  The next thing is that trying to find an old note can be a big challenge.  Lastly, you are limited to what you can write or type.

Evernote comes close to perfection when it comes to solving your note taking challenge.  Why?  Because it addresses each and everyone of those problems.  And guess what?  It’s free!!!

I’m not going to cover every little thing about Evernote here, but I will highlight its key features:

  • Your notes go to the “cloud”; now it doesn’t matter what happens to your electronic device; it breaks, just get another one and you still have your notes.  If you lose your electronic device, it doesn’t matter, you still have your notes; thus you can never lose your notes (unless Evernote disappears from the face of the earth; which is not very likely considering the success they are having )
  • With Evernote, you can take notes with your desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, and through simple texting means.  Most of the time, you’ll have your phone, and as such, you can still take notes.
  • The search function within Evernote is great.  You can search using key words, or through tags; nothing can be easier.
  • With Evernote, you aren’t limited to taking notes by typing; you can add other forms of information like:  audio, videos, images, and photos.  You can’t beat that!
  • Last but not least, it is FREE!
Let me know if this information is useful or if you have more information you would like to share.  Comment below.

Free Article Spinner

November 25th, 2011 No comments
Free Article Spinner

Free Article Spinner

It seems to be a well know fact, at least to those who do niche sites or serious blogging, that one of  the keys to top standing in Google’s organic search results is getting back links to your site or article.  All you have to do are:

  • Write lots of articles with back links to your site or article
  • Find sites to post the articles, then post them
The latter is easy to do.  As a matter of fact, the back linking page at forlanda.net lists a few of them.  The challenge is writing many articles.  There are at least a couple of ways to approach this.  One of them is to buy an article spinner.  Some of them might cost you a one time cost of around $100.  Other ones will cost you in subscription fees–around $77 per year.
If you aren’t ready to dole out that kind of dough, try a free article spinner at forlanda.net.  This article spinner is free.  As a matter of fact, it is just work in progress; so it is very primitive; however, it does the job.  It is free after all.
If you don’t know the syntax for article spinning, then this short explanation on article spinning syntax should help.