RILEY Family   GnomeReport 20-02-07

Lockergnome See You at Gnomedex 2002!

 07.25.2002 GnomeREPORT

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Lockergnomie Mike Riley tells me that Ron is not  alone in his frustration. "While things have improved enormously in the  past 10 years, the art of providing instructions for users of hardware and  software products is still a much-abused field. When I began 'technical'  writing over 20 years ago, there were no college programs offering such a  thing. Ottawa is supposed to be the 'silicon valley' of the north; if this  is any reflection, then California is just as sorry as we are when it  comes to spending money to provide good written support. The Documentation  is most often seen as a 'necessary evil' and is thus considered  'overhead.' And the plunging stock values and cutbacks and layoffs make it  worse. But the truth is I have been fighting with executives for miles and  miles and miles to accept that user documentation is an intrinsic part of  any product, as important to sales as the development team and the code."

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? "Companies think they save  money by putting out their documents as PDFs. They don't. People don't  like to read lengthy concept pieces on their laptops or PCs, no matter how  pretty they are. People always have and perhaps always will prefer to grab  the book, take it to bed, take it to the back yard, keep it open beside  the PC... whatever. You can digest a book, and save your place in it. PDFs  are designed to be shared for printing, not for reading online. Help  files, on the other hand, are written in easily-absorbed chunks and used  as reference while working in your programming. This current fad that  commercial software companies are into about making everything an HTML  page is nuts; Adobe is the worst. It is becoming almost impossible to  search through one of these file sets and come up with highly relevant  answers; instead, you get 20 or 30 choices that you have to wade through,  making it a total waste of time. Oh, I wish the theory of Indexes and  their usage would become part of college entrance exams..."

If this isn't hitting home yet, it will. "It's a miracle when a  shareware developer / author also has the smarts to provide a good set of  Help files. If I rifle through my downloaded files (which are legion and  leviathan), I see that the ones I use most and the ones I have purchased  almost always share two things: stability, and a good set of instructions.  Often these instructions are in Help files that I can't print, but hey:  how many shareware writers can afford the services of a good technical  writer ? On the other hand, Ron is right on: a lot of these 'shareware'  programs are simply time-limited demos for programs that are designed by  businesses with growth expectancies, not by single or small-team  developers. As such, I demand that all websites that provide download  services re -label these commercial programs as DEMO TO GET YOU INTERESTED  IN BUYING OUR STUFF, and not as Shareware at all. Especially the FTP  programs, most of which have such obtuse interfaces that even a rocket  scientist can't figure them out."

See You in August,              
Chris  Pirillo       


Latest Downloads

Faber  Toys 2.4
Angry  IP Scanner 2.09
jv16  PowerToo
Kana  Reminder
Travelaxe  1.74
ArsClip  2.2.5
Offline  CD Brows 3.1.15
Dyro  Pop Maker 1.1
Crack  Killer 1.10
Dyro  Web Scrollbars 1.0
ArtSee  1.2
allSnap  1.21
Weather  Watche 5.0  beta

msTagger  v1.01 [242k] W9x/2k/XP FREE

{MP3 renamer} Sometimes I'll backup my audio CDs to my PC, and to  conserve space, I'll convert the audio tracks to MP3. I use my CD burning  software to rip the audio files to MP3 format, and although I can name the  MP3 files, I can't edit their ID3 tag. (ID3 tags are what players like  Winamp use to help you sort your music in their application.) I could  probably use Winamp to edit every tag but that takes time... so instead,  I'll load up msTagger! Whether you need to rename your MP3 files or copy  data from an ID3v2 tag to an ID3v1 tag, with msTagger you can navigate to  your music directory and start editing the files instantly. A word of  warning: it does take a little while to learn your way around the  software. Once you do, however, it is quite handy and a real time-saver.

PowerOff v3.0.0.11 [264k] W9x/2k/XP FREE

{PC on, PC off, Daniel-san} How many times have you spent staying up  late at night downloading a big file or doing a long install? You're  nodding off the whole time, but being the power conservationist that you  are (good for you!), you don't want to leave your computer because you  want to shut down your machine when the install/download is done. With  PowerOff, you don't have to stay there and wait for your install to  finish; just schedule your computer to shut down after the install  finishes. Along with the shutdown feature, PowerOff can also reboot, log  off, power off, or lock your workstation. You aren't just limited to your  OWN machine though, you can perform a "Wake-On-LAN" for any computer on  your network (or any of the other aforementioned features), as long as  your have rights to that machine. If you're an administrator, you'll also  enjoy the fact that you can send a warning to your remote users before  shutting them down or rebooting their system. Thank goodness for  PowerOff... no more mornings of waking up with a keyboard imprint on my  cheek.

Recommend It!


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The easiest way to Zip/UnZip. An AWARD-WINNING file compression utility featuring quick backup, batch processing, Windows integration and SUPPORTS 15 archive formats (ACE, RAR, etc).

Shortcut to RDesk.exe

IPCheck Server Monitor monitors a network using various protocols (e.g. ping, http, smtp, ftp) and notifies the staff in various ways as soon as an outage occurs.

Share your team/project contacts, calendars, tasks, etc. in MS Oulook 2002, without a server!


Command Prompt Explorer Bar v1.1 [229k] W9x/2k/XP FREE

{Explorer enhancement} I can't even tell you how many times I have  tried to run a DOS batch file or some sort of script (whether VB or Java),  only to have a black screen pop up and then suddenly disappear, leaving me  with nothing. (Has my computer suddenly been possessed by David  Copperfield and his incredible vanishing magic?) Well, that isn't a  problem for me since I got the Command Prompt Explorer Bar. With a quick  press of CTRL+M, I am left with a command window that is nested inside my  current Explorer window. What's even better is that the command prompt is  already "navigated" to the window I opened it in. For example: If I hit  CTRL+M when my current directory is the Desktop, then the command prompt  window opens to C:\Windows\Desktop. Command Prompt Explorer Bar also has a  built-in script button, which is nice, but I had a hard time getting it to  work on my machine (I suspect a problem with my machine, though, NOT the  program). Before you decide to download this application, make sure you  have both Windows Installer version 2 and .Net framework installed, both  of which you can find on Microsoft's Web site.

Recommend It!


Check&Get v1.14 [2.1M] W9x US$29
Unearthed by Dmitry  Skorniakov

{Web site update checker} I check my favorite Web sites every day  (sometimes even twice a day) and it would be nice if there was a way to  know if they have been updated since I last visited... why surf when you  don't know if anything new is waiting at your destination? Check&Get  to the rescue! With Check&Get you can import your favorites from IE,  Netscape, or Opera and set the application to check for updates to those  Web sites according to a time frame you specify. Or, if you just can't  wait, you can also click the "Check URL" button. While checking for  updates, Check&Get also detects dead or and duplicate links, and  monitors the Web site's availability. A new feature in Check&Get v1.14  allows you to convert your bookmarks into a Web-ready HTML file that  allows you to create and publish your own "mini-portal" in seconds. Did I  mention that you can turn on the preview pane and view your Web sites  directly from the application? It's all right here, folks. Check it out,  and Get it!

Submit Your Thoughts |Recommend It!

50 TIPS TO MAKE WINDOWS MORE USEFUL Do you have to  deal with Windows on a daily basis? Might as well maximize your time  with it. You'll find that some of these tips will apply to other  operating systems, too. The world of computing isn't so mysterious  once you understand how it works. With this GnomeTome, you'll begin  to work faster - and smarter. Download Windows  Productivity Tips now!


Xanthic Graphics

What can I say... I'm a hopeless graphics man! Some would say I am too  easily amused with the sleight of hand that goes into making a beautiful  wallpaper, or the wizardry that goes into a dazzling set of icons. Be that  as it may, I have fallen in love with Xanthic Eye. With a gallery of  wallpapers and icons for both Windows and OS X, who wouldn't be in love  with this site? If you still aren't impressed, take a whirl through the  "Skins" section and give your Winamp (or Real Jukebox) installation a  much-needed facelift. Although it is said that a magician should never  reveal his secrets, Xanthic throws this rule to the wind by offering  in-depth tutorials for both Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro. Maybe now, I can  become the mouse-twirling graphics guru that I have always dreamed of  being!

Recommend It!


Several of our friends seem to be suddenly finding themselves in "a  family way." I just know that when the day comes (when I become a  full-fledged father, that is), it will also be the day that my digital  camera becomes permanently grafted to my hand. I'll be taking pictures all  the time of my bundle of joy and, of course, I'll be sending them to  friends and family all the time. Now I'm going to let you in on a little  secret... you can use Moviemaker in Windows XP to share your own pictures.  Just open up Moviemaker ,and drop your photos into a new movie. Now all  your photos are in one easy-to-play file. On top of that, you can add  music or audio commentary. They say a picture is worth a thousand words,  but I think sometimes a small story helps your audience understand what is  so great about your photos. So now you have this great slide show that can  either be loaded to the Web, on to a CD, or even just e-mailed out  (depending on the size) and it literally just takes minutes. Of course you  could take it even a step farther and add in clips from your digital video  camera and come out with a personal masterpiece, but that is better left  for another tip. Also, you may want to note that you may have to play with  your pictures a bit to get them to display in a fashion that you'll be  proud of because the quality will suffer slightly, but that is a small  price to pay for viewing pleasure of your audience.

Recommend It!

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And now,  I finally have proof that the vacuum attachment wants to eat Sprocket.  He's been eyeing it for weeks.

Sprocket's  Pipe Dream


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