01 December 2009

Page borders

A friend just asked me this question: "Any idea where I can find free downloadable Word page borders? Please. I'm trying to make some Christmas card competition certificates and what I've found is so awful and basic."

I have always really struggled with Word borders and don't think I've used one since 1998. This is mainly because printers tend not to print quite what you'd expect or something has been set to Letter not A4 and all that stuff from the old days. No doubt things are better now but I can't suggest anything officially Word.

However, two ideas spring to mind (in the absence, presumably of the excellent Serif products?) and they are:

(a) take slices from an image - could be literally anything big enough (ie landscape wider than 3300pixels and deeper than about 2500 pixels for good quality printing). You have your own photos or look for something on morguefile.com or sxc.hu (registration required for the latter but both free) or, I suppose, Google Images (but remember to change options to show only large images). You could find particular colours by using the brilliant Flickr tool on my webtools site - can't remember what it's called but something like Multicolr on this page where you just pick a colour and it finds pics with that shade in. The slices can then be placed on the border of the document as you please.

(b) er, can't remember what (b) was now, oh yes, I know, PowerPoint - you know PowerPoint isn't just for slides, don't you? And you can write letters in PowerPoint just like Word. All you have to do is change the Slide Set-up to A4 or whatever you want. Then design your page the easy way with the usual range of tools. You could easily create a cool background by covering the whole page with a shade, graphic or image even and then putting a white rectangle on top of that. Hey pisto, I mean presto, you've got a very smart-looking template. Add text boxes for whatever you need if others are to use it. In fact, if you put all the design gubbins on the master slide then the kids can't possibly mess up the page anyway.

25 November 2009

Old things that still work well, like sums in Google

This has been around for years but, just in case you'd forgotten, typing a calculation in the Google search box will give you the answer. Even better is just typing the sum in the address bar in Google Chrome where the answer comes up without you even having to go the trouble of hitting Return!

I used to have the Windows Calculator pinned to the Start menu but that can go now. (It always struck me as odd that it was buried in Accessories, Notepad, too. Hmm maybe I can find something else for that too.)

Lastly, whilst on the topic of old stuff that's still useful, I am still amazed at how swiftly IrfanView opens up and does the job of editing and saving images like screenprints. The two illustrations above were so easy. Where no special effects or pixel work are required this free programme is quite brilliant and long may it remain light and simple.

24 November 2009

If your browser takes forever to open . . .

. . . it could be due to an overloaded Java cache. Firefox has been taking nearly 5 minutes on some computers, prompting me to switch to Chrome, but it may be due to clutter after all. You probably know browsers these days store every image, every page you visit, ads and all and that has to be swept away at least once a week. Same with java.

The Java Control Panel applet lets you clear Java's temporary Internet cache and reset the default cache size to a more reasonable amount.

For many people, the most-important application on their PCs is their browser. But sometimes it seems to take forever for the program to open.

To clear your Java cache, click Start, Control Panel, Programs (if necessary), Java. In the Temporary Internet Files section under the General tab, choose the Settings button.

In the Temporary Files Settings dialog, click Delete Files. (See Figure 1.) The default size of the Java cache on PCs I checked was 1GB (or "1000MB," as shown). There's no particular reason why the cache needs to be this large. A more reasonable cache size is between 100MB and 200MB.

With acknowledgments to the excellent WindowsSecrets.com

18 November 2009

Office 2010 beta now available for download

If you fancy taking the new Microsoft Office 2010 for a spin then download it here. Microsoft suggest that you remove any previous versions first which means you may need some alternative way to deal with Office stuff on whichever machine you decide to put it on. Just in case.

Google Image Swirl

A nice new feature for Google Images.

12 November 2009

Watch out for Voddler

I have a suspicion that the name may change by the time it gets here but perhaps it sounds better to the Swedes, who can use this application to watch movies streamed to their computer, laptop or phone. It's very much like Spotify, the clear winner to date in free and legal music streaming but to be able to get movies on demand will be something impressive.

The service isn't available outside Sweden yet but there people can choose from over 800 movies already, with just a short advertising feature at the start of each. Whether there will be interruptions from 'This is Sebastian from Voddler, thanking you for . .' and all that jazz remains to be seen, (or not, hopefully).

keep an eye on developments at the Voddler site.

03 November 2009

Catch a wave

Delighted to get a Google Wave account at the weekend. And 20 invitations which I have already had requests for at a ratio of about 5:1. If you haven't heard of this then you soon will (and there are links in some previous posts). Think e-mail, IM, live collaboration on a document, image or video sharing, maps showing where you or something mentioned is, polls all rolled into one application that lets you see someone's message or additions as they enter them rather than waiting for them to hit send and you may get the idea.

I'll be trying it out with some carefully chosen friends, probably doing something silly like planning a trip to Greece or boring like agreeing a meeting agenda at first and then hopefully extending it as we get more expert and figuring out what we can achieve.

If you think you could be a useful ally in this trial then contact me - there should be a link somewhere on the blog. Or look on my web site.

So, to end as I started, with a Beach Boys track, Let's go surfin' now, everybody's surfin' now, surfin' USA . . . and UK.

24 October 2009

Microsoft Security Essentials is free

Once there was One Care Live or Live One Care which was free for so long that I don't think I ever had to pay for it. It was a bit slow but did seem to catch some nasty stuff that other anti-virus applications had missed. Then there was the Malware protection that came with IE8, free again, and a suggestion that the OneCare pack would be available free under a name I did publish ages ago but can't now remember. Then came Windows 7 and you may find that you need to install some new anti-virus and malware protection. Windows 7 does come with some pretty smart firewall protection and IE8 will bring the same as it had before but for peace of mind you may wish to download Microsoft Security Essentials. (Here's what they say about it in their own words. Hope they don't mind the copy and paste but saves me time!)

Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a free* download from Microsoft that is simple to install, easy to use, and always kept up to date so you can be assured your PC is protected by the latest technology. It’s easy to tell if your PC is secure — when you’re green, you’re good. It’s that simple.

Microsoft Security Essentials runs quietly and efficiently in the background so that you are free to use your Windows-based PC the way you want—without interruptions or long computer wait times.

*as long as you're running genuine XP, Vista or 7

22 October 2009

Who's following @kirrisdad?

This nice little application will make a mosaic of your Twitter followers' avatars. here's mine at the time of writing:

Get your twitter mosaic here.