About the Author
James Curran

Creating a PDF

That is the trick, isn’t it? The solution we have here at the UUA is called PDF Creator and works something like this: it is a piece of software that pretends to be a printer. Suppose you have an Excel document open and would like a copy as a PDF. Good old PDF Creator is standing around shouting: Pick me! Pick me! I’m the coolest printer! Pick me! If you do choose to print to PDF Creator it will ask you to save a file (this is the part where you pick where you want the new PDF to end up). Then still fooling the other program into thinking it is a printer, PDF Creator will get all the data that would normally be headed off to the printer and instead turn it into a PDF.

If you don’t have PDF Creator installed you can get it here. PDF Creator is the only PDF method officially supported by ITS, but here are some other ones I’ve found handy:

  • Open Office: An Office Suite that can do many of the things Microsoft Office can (does some things better, does some much worse or not at all) and it can create PDFs. Just install it fire it up and open the document you want then look for a little PDF icon on the toolbar. Click on that and presto it asks you where you want the PDF to end up. If you want to give it a whirl you can get open office here.
  • Free PDF Convert.com: The way this works is you upload the document you want converted and they email you a PDF. The downside is they have your email and might spam it. You can find it here.

Portable Apps: Your Life on USB

Today I’d like to share something that has been incredibly useful to me. You may remember I recommended Rocketdock for its portability. That’s because several years ago I discovered portableapps.com. The site provides (free) software that can run from a USB jump drive. Think of it as carrying around all the programs you use with you. There are a million different ways it can be useful so I can’t go into all of them here, but I will say it is a very useful way to organize your digital life, not to mention get some use out of that old USB Key you have sitting around.

New Blank Tab
Close Tab
Minimize Window
Page Bottom
Page top

Home Page

Free AntiVirus Protection (For your home computer)

Hello Loyal Reader,

Today I thought I’d share the answer to one of the ITS tickets. Oh yes, it is an exclusive sneak peek behind the scenes at ITS! Anyway the other day we got a ticket with an excellent question in it. To paraphrase: “I think my antivirus service is going to run out, do you know of any good free alternatives?” It’s a simple question but not always a simple answer. There are many options, but here are a two I have tried out personally (and had a reasonably good experience with):

AVG Free

I use this at home and have had very good luck with it. The program updates often and seems to catch viruses.

It will constantly try to get you to upgrade to the paid version of the program.

Home Page

Avast Home Ed Free

Lots of different protection elements besides antivirus, it’ll keep an eye on your web surfing, instant messaging and a bunch of other things. It’ll even try to restore your computer if you get a virus that destroys data. You can sound like a pirate when you talk about your computer’s antivirus software.

The thing is really a suite of programs, so it will slow down your computer with all the extra things running. Also: you’ll sound like a pirate when ever you mention antivirus stuff…

Home page

Disclaimer: This article is based on my personal experience and opinions may vary.

Docks for Windows

As a poor Windows/Linux user I miss out on many of the joys of Mac OS X simply because I’m too cheap to buy yet another computer. However I have borrowed one of the better GUI (Graphical User Interface: Geek for what you see on the screen) elements that OS X has made popular. I refer of course to the Dock. I find it to be a useful (well and pretty) way to organize my shortcuts. Here are the two free docks for windows that I use:

Stardock ObjectDock

I install this one on all my desktops. It gives you lots of options (via right click on the dock) and has been very stable for me.

Home Page

Rocket Dock

The reason I use this one is for its portability, it doesn’t take as many system resources as Stardock and it can be run from a USB thumbdrive.

Home page

Easy Double Sided Printing

For those times when you wish to save ink and paper, Mark asked if we could create a couple of print profiles. They do indeed exist: “B&W;, 2-sided” and “B&W;, 2-sided, stapled”. Things are fairly simple, the first prints in black and white only on both sides of the page, and the second does the same with the addition of stapling the pages together.

In order to use these settings when printing a document select Properties.

Then Select the profile you want from the dropdown menu.

Then click OK and Print.

If you have any questions feel free to get in touch with me.

Manage Your Email Attachments

So I was wandering around the internet the other day and stumbled upon a neat little program to help one get control of their email attachments. It’s called OutlookAttachView. It makes a sortable list of your email attachments, and from there you can delete or save them.

You can download it yourself, but we’ve installed it on the network for you. Just click here select open or run to the window that pops up and it will create an icon on your desktop. It’s a great way to clean out the attachments that are hogging your Outlook email space. Note that if you have a lot of attachments, it may take several moments for the list to be resorted when you click on column headings.

I should note that I found it on Lifehacker, a wonderful blog that features helpful computer tips and tools.

Nifty Trick with Office Tools and a Scanner

Occasionally you have a paper document you’d like to edit in Word. Fear not, you won’t have to retype the whole thing. Here is what you do:

Run over to your nearest scanner, and scan in the document as a .tiff (It has to be a tiff for the tool we’ll use next)

Send it to your computer

Once the scanned file is on your computer open Microsoft Document Imaging

Next open your tiff file ( File >> Open) and browse to you tiff file

Once your scanned document is open go to the Tools Menu and select Send Text to Word…

It will open a word document with the text of your scanned document. Regrettably it usually doesn’t keep things organized the same way on the page, so you’ll have to do a bit of clean up on the document.

If you have any questions about how things work with this or other programs, please contact the UUA helpdesk.