They say that the kids don’t use email that much these days. Doesn’t that sound dreamy? We adults, unfortunately, have no such luxury. For better or for worse, email is a major part of our personal and work lives.
We’re tempted to just leave it at that. But there’s no need to feel hopeless. We took a good, long look at the center of our communication universe with an eye toward improving, upgrading, and (hopefully) dominating it. The fruits of our labor are in the following pages. Enjoy! (Or maybe we should say, suffer less?)
From Windows 95 right on through to Windows 7, the Start Menu has always been just a wee bit short of perfection when it comes to increasing your productivity. Fortunately, Launchy has been helping Windows users get back up to speed since 2007. For those of you not familiar with this fabulous, free utility, Launchy is a Start Menu alternative that provides you with wicked fast access to every file, bookmark and program on your PC using nothing more than a few keystrokes. Once you’ve installed it and bent Launchy to your will, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.
With Vista and Windows 7, Microsoft has been making some big strides in the quality of Windows’s native search. For regular, targeted searches (finding a file in your downloads folder, for instance), it does a great job of giving you near-real-time results. Unfortunately, that’s not always good enough.
Sometimes you know you’ve got a file, but you just can’t remember where you put it. That means you’ve got to resort to the dreaded Search Local Disk (C:), or even worse, Search Computer. It doesn’t take as long as it used to, but it can still take quite a while to find what you’re looking for. If you find yourself in this situation regularly, you need true instant search. You need Everything.
There are few services on the internet today more ubiquitous than Google Maps. Originally designed to be downloaded by users as a desktop application, it quickly became a web-based service once the company that gave birth to it was acquired by Google in 2004. By 2005, the user-friendly mapping solution was a household name. Six years later, developers are still discovering new ways to leverage the venerable mapping service to produce more information and expand its functionality, making an already awesome free service even better. To show you what we’re talking about, we’ve put together a list of our ten favorite tips and uses for Google Maps. Some come from Google, others from third-party developers. All of them are awesome.
When the Kinect first launched last November, gamers were (to put it charitably) a bit skeptical. Here was a device with incredible technological potential, and the most impressive game that came out with it was a dance simulator.
Still, the Kinect has become a bona fide hit, selling more than eight million units in the first 60 days alone and being named the “fastest-selling consumer electronics device” of all time by Guinness World Records. But more importantly, the software problem has been solved. Not by Microsoft, whose Kinect releases have been few and far between, but by the ever-growing legion of hackers creating innovative tech demos and applications for Kinect on the PC.
Back in the August 2010 issue of Maximum PC I built a 3D HTPC that I was pretty damned happy with, but the times have changed. The CableCard quad tuner that was featured prominently in that machine is no longer needed, as I have joined the ranks of the Cable Cutter Movement™. So without the need for a CableCard, I wondered if I could build a rig with all the same capabilities but make it much, much smaller.
We remember a time when “back up” meant hitting the “clone drive” button—and that was about as hard as it got. Unfortunately, things have changed. Now that we measure our digital lives in terabytes instead of megabytes, it’s just impractical to copy the entire contents of one drive over to another as part of a routine backup schedule.
That’s why we like 2BrightSparks’ SyncBack program. With but a few clicks of a mouse you can ensure that only the files you care about most are either backed up on a regular basis or, better yet, automatically synchronized between two locations at once.
Say what you will about Twitter, but it’s ubiquity is startling. Consider the following statistics:
• An average of a billion tweets are sent each week. That amounts to approximately 140 million tweets per day. Per day!
• When Michael Jackson died back in June 2009, Twitter saw 456 tweets per second. Almost two years later, the record stands at6,939 tweets per second. (That occurred in Japan on New Year’s day.)
• Twitter is seeing almost half a million accounts being created each day.
The most interesting thing about Twitter is that it’s simultaneously entertaining, informative, connective, distracting, and (potentially) destructive. As with all things multi-dimensional, the key to making the most of Twitter is understanding how to use it. With this in mind, we present a litany of tips. Feel free to chime in with your own (or disparage ours) in the comments section below.
It's hard to think of a program that's as quintessentially Windows as good ol' Notepad.exe. It's been there for us since the very beginning, and it hasn't changed a bit. And that's the problem.
If you do much work with plaintext, you know that there are better options than Notepad, chief among them Notepad++. If you've never tried Notepad++, you should give it a shot. It's available for free here and adds a whole bunch of modern features to the plaintext editor formula, including tabbed documents, syntax highlighting and plugin support.
If you have used Notepad++, you probably haven't used it to its full potential, read on for 11 quick tips and tricks to get more out of Notepad++.
Google Voice. Skype. VoIP-to-PSTN providers. SIP-to-SIP calls. All of these technologies and products allow you to make calls that are either free or much cheaper than on your landline. Wouldn’t it be great if you could escape the clutches of your Telco and connect your home phone to these services? A phone server like Asterisk can help you realize this dream.