GPSolo Magazine - December 2005
Once More into the Breach!
My computer tips and tricks column last December was so popular I thought I’d make a year-end tradition of it. One of my new tips, which I am sure will be appreciated, does not directly involve computers, but it definitely has a lot to do with them. Just to get you to read the entire column, however, I’ve put this tip at the end. Now you aren’t the type of person who would skip to the end of the column just to see what it is, are you? I certainly hope not.
Back from the Dead
For my loyal readers who did not skip to the end of the article, I’ve actually put that tip here at the beginning instead. Now we can chuckle at those impatient folks who are busy trying to find it at the end of this column. So here is the tip that will change your life. Don’t doubt me, just read on.
Ever scratch a CD or DVD, making parts of it unplayable? What to do? Just throw out something that you might have spent as much as $40 on? Or perhaps instead it can be fixed by a CD/DVD cleaner. Unfortunately, I find that most CD/DVD cleaners do very little. I gave up on them a long time ago, figuring that they were the modern version of X-ray glasses that used to be sold in the back of comic books.
But wait—big news! I found one that actually works, and works well. So rather than spending hundreds of dollars to replace that stack of scratched CDs and DVDs piled up in a corner, you can give them a new lease on life.
DVD/CD Disc Repair Plus is made by Alera Technologies and can be purchased at www.aleratec.com. You might want to look around at other sites, too, because the listed $39.99 price on the Alera site is easily beat by a number of other sites—I saw prices as low as $24.
I tried the product out on a music CD of mine that had several spots where the music was completely garbled. After I ran it through the Disc Repair Plus, the CD played perfectly without any distortion. PC Magazine gave this little beauty an Editor’s Choice Award, which you can read about at www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1835760,00.asp.
Not only can you use this for movies and music, but you also can use it at the office to repair CDs and DVDs used in your practice. See, I put something in to make it useful to your law practice, but we know that you’re secretly excited about repairing your Star Wars DVD collection.
Getting What You Don’t Pay For
If you download your e-mail using client software such as Outlook, and it is no longer available to read online (or anywhere else other than your computer) once you download it, then this tip is for you.
What happens when you received an important e-mail at work and you now are at home or perhaps on a business trip where you want to see that e-mail, or the document attached to that e-mail? It’s stuck on your computer in the office, and you have no way of getting to it until you return.
Well, I’ve come up with a system that will make all of the e-mail that you receive available to you on the Internet at no extra cost to you. It involves using Google’s e-mail system Gmail. For those who somehow missed the introduction of this new product, Gmail provides you with an e-mail address of your choosing with their domain name (@gmail.com). They also provide you with more than 2.5 GB of storage space, all free.
You can sign up if someone who already uses Gmail invites you, or if you sign up using text messaging from a cell phone. Go to the Gmail website at www.gmail.com for details.
Once you have set up your Gmail account, create a rule under Outlook, or whatever e-mail client software you use, that forwards all incoming e-mail to your Gmail account. In Outlook, for example, go under the “Tools” menu and select “Rules and Alerts,” then select “New Rule,” “Start from a blank rule,” and “Check messages when they arrive.” Hit the “Next” button twice. This will set up the rule for all messages you receive. Then select “Forward it to people or distribution list” and click on the underlined text “people or distribution list” in the bottom pane. Now simply insert your Gmail address as the forwarding address in the “To:” box. Now click “OK,” “Finish,” “Apply,” and “OK.” Once you have done this, all of your incoming e-mail will be stored both on your computer and on your Gmail account, which is accessible from any Internet connection, without your having to do a thing.
There are a couple of downsides to this system. Depending on how many e-mails you receive, you could find your “Sent Items” box loading up with a lot of forwarded messages. It is easy enough to remove them all. Simply go to the Sent Items box, highlight one of the forwarded messages, click on the “Arranged By” tool bar, and select “To.” This will gather all of the Gmail-forwarded e-mail together.
To delete all these messages, simply click on the first one, then hold down the “Shift” key while you click on the last one. All of the e-mail messages in between the first and the last ones will be highlighted, and you only have to push the Delete key once. Well, almost once. You then should go to the Deleted box and in the same way permanently delete all of the forwarded messages that were deleted from the Sent box.
Another downside is that Outlook will delete the original sender’s e-mail address when it forwards it to your Gmail account. This should not be a big problem for most people because the Subject line will give you a pretty good idea of what an e-mail is about, plus people typically provide a signature line in their e-mails. Also, Gmail has a great search feature that usually will help you find the e-mail that you want.
Once set up, you will have permanent storage of all e-mails sent to you, including any documents that were sent with the e-mails, all at no cost. I must give credit to John Page, a lawyer from Florida, for inspiring me to develop this tip. In one of his many posts on Solosez, he suggested writing a rule to forward all incoming mail to another e-mail address. I just took this idea a step further by incorporating Gmail.
The Need for Speed
Here’s a tip that doesn’t originate with me but can help improve the performance of your computer, which can be significantly slowed down by programs automatically loaded in startup. There are many ways that these programs get put in the auto-start category, but the important thing is to know how to stop them from starting each time you boot up if you don’t need them to do this.
In Windows 98, Windows Me, and Windows XP, there are two ways to see what programs are launched upon boot-up. One is to click on “Start,” then “Programs,” and finally “Startup.” If there are any programs that you don’t need to start up when you turn on your computer, simply right-click on it and click on “Delete.”
The other place to look is in Microsoft’s System Configuration Utility. Trust me, it’s not as scary as it sounds. Click on “Start” and then “Run.” Type in “msconfig” without the quotes and click on “OK.” Click on the “Startup” tab and you will see the programs that start up every time you boot up your computer. Sometimes it can be an impressively long list, with many programs that you simply don’t need to run for every boot up.
Each of these programs slows down your computer to some extent. If you see some that you don’t need upon startup, click on their boxes to remove the checkmarks. You can’t do too much harm by removing check marks under the Startup tab, so experiment a bit by removing programs if you aren’t too sure what they do. If you need them, you can always come back here and reinsert the checkmark. When you have removed all the ones that you don’t need, click OK. You may get a message that you need to restart your computer to make the changes effective, which you can do right away or later.
These tips should make your relationship with technology a lot easier. Or at least you’ll be happier because you can now watch your Star Wars DVDs again.
David Leffler is a member of the New York City law firm Leffler Marcus & McCaffrey LLC, which represents clients in business matters and litigation. Prior to that he was a solo attorney for more than a dozen years. You can write to him at email@example.com.