How to clean a laptop screen . . . serious this time.

I’ve worked on laptops for about 8 years now . . . I also use Photoshop extensively and you can’t imagine the times I’ve tried to retouch a spot in an image that wasn’t a spot at all! Let’s face it, LCD screens are better than ever, but they still get dirty and smudged.

Through the years, I’ve looked for all sorts of things to try and get ’em clean. Solvents, kits, special applicators . . . well, today I’m working in the kitchen (Jake’s sick) and the glare from the window by the kitchen table amplifies the grime on my screen ten fold. Of course, most of this grime is from the classic “gotta touch the screen or it won’t work” effect from the kids!

Lacking judgement at the time, I lightly sprayed a folded paper towel with Windex (I know, someone just cringed). It, of course, just smeared the gunk across the screen for even worse visibility. Then, I went for broke and simply applied a generous amount of water to another folded paper towel – not dripping, just enough. And, ya know what?! I’m looking at a screen that matches when it was fresh from the factory.

So, there you go . . . I had to put this post out there (I know, boring!) because I’ve looked for a good solution for so long. And, hey, maybe I got lucky, but the fact is – it worked!

FreshBooks to the rescue

OK, before this year, let’s just say my book keeping was less than stellar. I knew just enought about Excel to put clients into a spreadsheet and dole out billing on my own each month or quarter. Yeah, that was lowsy. I had tried Quickbooks way back when, but just didn’t “get” it . . . then, I ran into Freshbooks. I truly haven’t run into a piece of software (let alone an online provider) that was this intuitive and useful to the average self-employed person.

Setup is a breeze . . . fees are very reasonable . . . and best of all, I don’t lift a finger once I set up my clients. For instance, if I have a yearly client (hosting fee), I simply enter a recurring fee for a date and forget it. Freshbooks handles the late fee notifications and such and I can see when people log in to view their invoices. I can give credits when needed and create custom invoices and estimates. Bottom line, it’s increased my productivity drastically. I can even have Freshbooks mail actual paper billing without thinking about printing and folding – they take care of it all.

So, there ya go. If you’re looking for some good book keeping software or, like me, can’t keep it all together manually, you should check this out. They have a free trial if you’d like. Just click here to get going. I think you’ll really like it.

Time Saving Voicemail Tip

Hats off to the folks at Tekzilla for this . . . you know that voice you hear when you call someone’s cell beginning with “We’re sorry, the party you have called, cannot be reached . . . ” followed by an eternity of options? You really just want the beep so you can leave a message, right? Well, if you’re an AT&T customer (which most are these days!), just press 0. How obvious is that? You’ll go straight to the beep and actually remember what you wated to say!

Easy task switching

If you run many programs at once (as I do), you know that using the Alt-Tab keys in Windows is invaluable. However, I have trouble figuring out what programs are which. If I have 3 or 4 instances of one program open, I have to guess which one is the one I want.

Well, I was watching Tekzilla (podcast) the other day and they introduced me to TaskSwitchXP. Wow. Awesome program. Now, when I Alt-Tab, I see a screen shot of the program with the actual information. And, it seems to be a very lightweight program, so it doesn’t slow anything down. I’m only on day one, but if any trouble arises, I’ll post again.

Click here to try it for yourself.

Email through Texting

Here’s a quick tip you might not know. I know, you probably do . . . but if not, it’s super helpful. I was chatting with a couple of friends after church Sunday night. One mentioned he needed a super-expensive data plan to send emails from his Treo. I said, “Just send it as a text message.”

Evidentally, he (and the other guy) didn’t know that you can send a text message from your phone to an email address. Yep, just make the recipient any email Continue reading

Camera memory finally getting cheaper*

I’m noticing something . . . as I look at cards for my digital cameras, I see a pattern: prices are dropping big time! SD Memory Cards (which Alison uses in her Canon SD300) are usually near the bottom of the barrell on price, but other formats (Compact Flash, Memory Stick, etc.) aren’t too much higher.

It stands to reason that they’d be cheaper since higher capacities are coming out. The best deals I’m seeing are 1GB cards. However, 2 GB cards can be found almost as cheap with rebates (see asterisk in the title of this post . . . play your cards right when dealing with rebates! Guess I’ll post on that later!).

I know I’m a big supporter of Buy.com, but that’s because they almost always have the best prices (and service for that matter). I’ve linked to the site below. Just type in SD Card or Compact Flash, etc. in their search bar and you’ll be taken to a selection of cards. What a great time to get some new memory cards for all those Christmas pictures!

Click here to search Buy.com.

P.S. If you’re looking for a great LCD TV, type in “Norcent 32 inch” above. Great reviews and even better price.

Handy Clean-up Helper

I work on a Laptop with a 40 GB hard drive. It’s going on 3 years old now . . . and it’s getting pretty full. I used to go through my hard drive and search for the biggest files, then scan through them and delete as needed. Man, that took a while. Well, I found a great new (and FREE!) program called WinDirStat (thanks Maximum PC Mag) that is so useful, I had to jot it down here so you could partake.

It’s a simple program that simply scans your hard drive, then gives you a color coded block “map” of your files. The bigger the block, the larger the file. So, if you have some video footage from a camera you don’t need, this will pinpoint it so you can zap it right there. Seriously, you can’t know how helpful it is until you use it.

Website to download from: http://windirstat.sourceforge.net (scroll down to the downloading part)