Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Generator Blog

The evil genuises at the The Generator Blog have created some wonderfully creative ways to waste time. Go check it out.
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Thursday, December 14, 2006 (All platforms)

From Lifehacker, (big surprise)

All platforms: Enjoy new features and bug fixes in 2.1, the latest version of the open-source office suite superstar.

In case you're somehow unaware of its existence, provides a full suite of Microsoft Office-caliber applications: word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and even Visio-like drawing. Version 2.1 adds multiple monitor support for Impress, improved Calc HTML exporting and automatic notification of updates, among other features. Granted, these aren't earth-shattering improvements, but any new release of our favorite office suite is cause for celebration.

Available for all platforms, 2.1 is free.

Correction: Reader Tim points out that 2.1 (in English) isn't yet available for Mac OS X. Mac users should check out NeoOffice.

Friday, December 01, 2006

How to ensure a response to your email

From my favorite site, Lifehacker:

How to ensure a response to your email

Friend of Lifehacker Eszter Hargittai details how to write emails to strangers that will get a response. For example:

Write a clear and descriptive subject line. The reason for carefully crafting the subject line is two-fold. First, you want to make sure your message is not filtered out by a program as spam. Second, you want to make sure the recipient does not delete your note manually, assuming it is unwanted junk mail.

Write a clear and descriptive subject line. The reason for carefully crafting the subject line is two-fold. First, you want to make sure your message is not filtered out by a program as spam. Second, you want to make sure the recipient does not delete your note manually, assuming it is unwanted junk mail.

The above may seem obvious, but in our efforts to keep up with the flood of email here at Lifehacker, you'd be surprised at how unclear subject lines can get (and how many times subjects are completely empty). The article is aimed at academics, but the tips are applicable to anyone writing an email to a stranger looking for help. If you've got your own bag of tricks, let us know how you handle email to strangers in the comments.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

DIY Brownie Gift Jar

From Lifehacker's post on DIY gifts for the holidays, here is a great last minute gift idea.

Brownie Mix in a Jar

Who doesn't love brownies? Nobody, that's who. That's why a brownie mix in a jar makes a great gift: it looks cool, it's easy and inexpensive to make, and it turns into brownies! I like to keep a couple of these on hand for "emergency" situations, like when someone gives you an unexpected gift and you want to look like you already planned something in return.

Basically, you layer all the dry ingredients in a jar, then add a tag explaining what wet ingredients (like eggs and oil) to add and how to finish the recipe. There are countless variations; this one comes from and includes pecans, which have no business in a brownie but can be replaced with chocolate chips or even coconut. In addition to the ingredients themselves, you'll need quart jars and tags for the baking instructions. Buy everything in bulk and you'll have enough lovingly homemade gifts for everyone on your list.


One final note: this doesn't have to be a regular old brownie mix. Search for "in a jar" and you'll find loads of brownie varieties as well as cookie recipes. Yet another variation: Family Fun's Hot Chocolate Cones, which rely on cone-shaped bags instead of jars. Whatever mouth-watering mix you choose, don't forget your favorite editors during this special season.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

Stephen Colbert in August "Wired"

Check out the August edition of Wired magazine. Stephen Colbert has an article on "How to be an expert on anything." It begins a special "how to" pull out section that covers everything from photography to sucking up to your boss. YMMV if you take all of the suggestions seriously, but I very much enjoyed the articles. The only thing I didn't like at first was the every-other-page Geek Squad advertisements, but I actually read them and they were fairly amusing. Although I would think that most of Wired's readers probably already know how to fix their computers without the Geek Squad. But you never know, and there are plenty of us out there that know how but are just plain lazy and would rather pay them to do it. Of course I'm also cheap in addition to being lazy, so I'll probably just do it myself so I don't have to lug my desktop to Best Buy.

Solar fan for a hot car?

Have you seen this? The Auto Cool Solar Car Fan is a nifty gadget that's supposed to keep your interior cool(er) while your car is sitting in the sun. Down here in Texas our cars can become so hot you can bake pottery in them. I've used the windshield screens over the years, and I've found that the shiny reflective insulated type work the best. They don't fold down very small, but they are worth their weight in gold if you have leather seats (ouch!). So I saw this solar car fan on TV and thought about trying it. I figure if I put it with the screen it could work pretty well. So anyone wanna buy me one so I can try it out? I'll probably have to wait until I get another $5 off Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupon and go there to pick one up. But if it will keep my Tahoe cool in the sun, it'll be worth the money.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Stop Work Distraction

A post over at 43 Folders reminded me of something I've been needing to do in the new year. Learn the "qualified yes". Somehow, while reading that post I stumbled on another relating to office distractions, it may have been over at Lifehacker. In fact, it was, so check out "Firewalling your attention at the office". One thing I would add is that in my company, some of the offices allow you to have a curtain or three-fold divider that you can put in front of your cube doorway. Some people put them up to take a lunchtime nap or just to have some privacy. I've also seen a sign on a string saying something like, Do Not Disturb. Procrastination Rectification in Progress." Then there's specialized roll-up doorway blocker, I think I saw one at Think Geek one time. Nope, not at ThinkGeek, try CubeDoor. It has a pattern on it but is also transparent and small enough that people could see around to know that you're working but still get the point. Now to work on that time management thing again...

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