PDFMyURL.com

PDFmyURL is a great little website. As the name suggests it turns any website into a PDF. Simply browse to the site enter the address of the page you would like to turn into a PDF and press the orange P shaped button. The site will work its magic and in a couple seconds your web browser will ask you if you want to save a file. In the example below it would ask to save ‘www.uua.org.pdf’

Edit: We also have a post explaining how to turn a document like a PDF into a website.

Tinychat: Free Online Video Conferencing

The other day I was reading Lifehacker’s list of 10 Under-hyped Webapps (http://lifehacker.com/5361979/ ) and came across Tinychat (http://tinychat.com/ ). After a couple tests I’m a fan.

What it’s good for:

Quickly creating a video conference

Pros:

Easy to use.
No sign up required
No install required
IM, video and audio chat
Screen sharing
Did I mention it’s easy to use?

Cons:

Not as many options as Persony or Skype
You have to create the conference each time

How to use it:

Got to http://tinychat.com/
Enter a name for your conference and click on the l large green button titled: Create you room
Type in your name and press Login
Let other folks know what the URL is so they can join
(It’ll be: http://tinychat.com/what you named your conference)
If you want to enable your webcam or mic Click on the large blue button titled Start Broadcasting
If you want to share your screen find the gear icon above the list of people in your chatroom mouse over it and select Start desktop sharing. After running a java program a red box will appear on your desktop. Drag the box so that it is around what you’d like to share with folks and click on the Start Capture button.
When you are through with your meeting simply send your browser to a different page.

A Few Super-Useful Applications

Today I’d like to highlight a few programs I find extraordinarily helpful. If you’d like to give them a try simply click here (Run or Download and Run the program) and a folder will appear on your desktop with shortcuts to all the programs below.

A few highlights: these programs can help you manipulate PDFs, Pictures and Audio files. There is a tool for creating Webpages and Page layouts for flyers or magazines. I’ve even included one that is just fun, I hope you get as much use out of them as I do (and have fun doing it).

Graphics
FotoGraphix – Image Editor (more powerful than paint easier than GIMP)
GIMP – Image Editor (Powerful but complex)
GreenShot -ScreenShot Tool
Scribus – Desktop Publishing (more powerful than Microsoft Publisher)

PDF Manipulation
Foxit – PDF Reader (Quicker than Adobe reader)
PDF Viewer – PDF Reader (Quicker than Adobe reader)
PDFTKBuilder – Simple interface allows you to Combine, Rotate and Split PDFs

Office Utilities
Nvu – Simple Webpage Creator
OutlookAttachView – Helps you manage your email attachments
PeaZip – Archives and Un-archives .zip .rar and a host of other formats
Snowbird – Alternate File Explorer (lets you quickly browse your files breadcrumb style)
Toucan – Program to help you backup/sync your files.

Sound and Video
VLC – Media player that plays almost any Video or Audio file
ImgBurn -Cd or DVD Burning, Nice and Simple
Audacity -Allows you to edit sound files such as .mp3s

Just for Fun
Stellarium – A Constellation Viewer (needed a fun program in the list I mean … um, it’s useful for calculating religious holidays and stuff…)

Disclaimer: These programs are not guaranteed or supported by ITS in any way. I seriously doubt it but if they do cause your computer to act strangely ITS can’t help you. Fortunately most of these programs have active forums which I have linked above. If you do run into trouble please check on the appropriate forum.

If you are offsite or using a laptop the click-here-link above will not work for you. Instead you may download the pack of programs here (110MB Download). Once you’ve downloaded the file simply unzip the file. You’ll find shortcuts (that will work) inside.

Finally these programs are made to work with windows only (sorry Mac and Linux folk)

The disclaimers and addendum’s are just to keep ITS from getting swamped with questions we can’t answer. I have been happily and productively using these programs with no ill effects for some time and I’m sure you will have much the same experience. Have fun!

As always contact the helpdesk if you have any questions (617-948-6109, ext 109 or helpdesk@uua.org)

Texter- Free Text Expander

So I’ve been experimenting with a program called texter. It allows me to automate typing things I frequently retype. Let me give you an example:

I type openarc and then press the Tab key Text automatically replaces openarc with:

To open an outlook archive file:

1) Open Outlook

2) Select the File Menu

3) Click on Open

4) Outlook Data File…

5) Browse to Find the Archive (we recommend people save them in their U:\)

6) Select the Archive and press OK

The Archive now appears in the Bar at the left of Outlook

I have whole emails saved this way. Instead of typing out the instructions to access Jefferson each time someone asks for it I simply type jeff and texter writes the email for me.

It can save tons of time and works with word, notepad, outlook or any place in windows that you can enter text. If you are interested there is info on how to use texter here: http://lifehacker.com/software/texter/lifehacker-code-texter-windows-238306.php

Download is here:

http://lifehacker.com/assets/resources/2007/11/Texter%20Installer%200.6.exe

For Mac users I hear Text Expander is good (though I haven’t tried it myself)

http://www.smileonmymac.com/TextExpander/

One Downside to Texter is that Remote Desktop causes it to crash (Logging onto Jefferson for example). It seems each time I use remote desktop for something I need to restart Texter .

Easily Sync Files Between Computers

Have you ever wanted to have the same file on your work computer and your home computer (or your smart phone/laptop/netbook)? Or maybe you and a coworker need to share some files temporarily. In either case there are a couple services that might be useful to you: DropBox and SugarSync. Both do essentially the same thing. They both provide you with an account online that stores files. That is nice but not an amazing service. Where these services do become useful is when you install a small program on your computer. Once installed it automatically uploads files placed in certain folder to your account. If another computer has the program installed it will automatically download the file.

End Result: Anything you put in a Sugarsync file or your Dropbox shows up on all your computers.

You can also access your files from any computer by logging onto their website a computer or smart phone.

Both have a free version capped at 2GB, though you can pay for more space. They also offer slightly different features so you may wish to check which one suits you better (my favorite is Dropbox).

Scribus: Free Desktop Publishing Program

Awhile back I stumbled onto what I like to think of as, a reasonably easy to use, free layout editor: Scribus. If you need to make fliers, posters, advertisements, etc. Scribus might be worth a look. Here are my thoughts after using it for awhile:

Ease of Use
I found its learning curve to be similar to Microsoft Office Publisher (an average person can use it with a bit of effort)

Capabilities
This is tricky, I’d say somewhere between MS Office Publisher and Adobe InDesign. Several of the things I particularly like: the option to run the program from a USB key and the save as pdf feature.

Pros
Free
More features than MS Publisher
Not impossible to learn (I’m looking at you Adobe Creative Products)
Saves PDFs

Cons
It has crashed on me once or twice
Not as powerful as Adobe InDesign
Not officially supported by ITS

Stuff I left out:
I’m really not sure how it compares to Quark as I have never used the program.

If you are interested you can download it here
Portable version here

Remote Desktop

Recently I found a handy little program that allows you to remote control another computer (or another person remote control your computer). It is simple to run, free and there is a copy that can be run from our network. I’ve made fairly detailed instructions and placed them here if you are interested.