Organization

Send and receive free faxes over the internet [solved]

I’ve used both the free and pro versions of efax for some time now:
Efax
Efax is a nice service to send and receive PDFs over the internet. When faxes come in they get forwarded to your email. You can sign up for a free account to receive faxes, though it costs money to send faxes or to have a local fax number.
I couldn’t justify paying a monthly fee just to send a couple faxes a year, so I just use the free account and this service:
http://faxzero.com/
Faxzero lets you send PDFs over the internet for free. They are supported by advertisements they put on your cover page. However, the fax does not look like spam because your cover page has your information on it and the rest of the pages are untouched. I have used this service for very professional applications (loan applications, etc.) and have never had a problem. You don’t need to register an account with them but do need to provide a valid email and confirm your address for each fax.

Considering gmail and google browser sync for organizing email and bookmarks [unsolved]

I hate switching email addresses, so I’ve been avoiding gmail for a long time…The more I play with it, the more impressed I am though, and all my friends are on chat.
I’m sick enough of yahoo’s horrible search options (the refine options are great, but I can’t find any easy way to quickly search from:someone and with the subject:something else).
It’s also been occurring to me that the email I have on web based services has been the safest and most reliable of any email I’ve had; I’ve lost thousands and thousands from old dead hard drives.
I found this article on uploading ALL of your old mail to gmail, including old outlook PST files and yahoo accounts using IMAP, which makes me definitely want to try using it. (Where was that email I wrote my sister in 2001…damn you outlook search!)
I’m also looking for a way to sync my bookmarks between all browsers. Some people are using gmail for that as well. I’m sick of using Delicious. I’m looking into Google Browser Sync but it’s only for firefox — I use several browsers. I hear foxmarks is good too. I’m just sick of having bookmarks all over the place. I’ll post more as I find better solutions.

Updates:
Safari Bookmarks Exporter will supposedly sync all browsers with your safari bookmarks, and .Mac and iSync will sync safari bookmarks across multiple macs. Still looking for a FAST web based solution though.

Mark all as read – Windows Mobile Messaging [solved]

This is such a microsoft way of doing things. Sure there’s a way to do it, but we’re just going to provide the source code in this SDK, and it’s up to you to compile it.
Anyway, here is a link to an installer that gives you a menu option to mark all messages as read in windows mobile. It also allows you to delete all:
http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=260761
It says it’s for Windows Mobile 2005 but I had no problem running it in Windows Mobile 6. By the way, xda-developers.com kicks ass.
Thank god. I have 6 email accounts on my phone, some of which subscribe to mailing lists, and it was a pain in the ass to select them all with the stylus and mark them as read. Worse yet, if you selected a read email, first you had to mark it unread, and then mark them all read.

Firefox always starts on the wrong screen with ultramon [solved]

Every once in a while Firefox starts on the wrong screen, and every new window I open also starts on the wrong screen, even when I quit and restart firefox. It drives me nuts.

I try using the ultramon button that switches the maximized window to the other screen, closing, and then restarting firefox, but new instances of the window still open on the new screen.

I figure out the solution to this every once in a while and then forget and it drives me nuts, so I’m writing it down here. You have to restore firefox to a resizable window, drag it over to the other screen, and then maximize from there. The problem is firefox doesn’t remember that you switched screens when you use the ultramon function, but does remember if you click and drag (which is handled by windows) the window over.

Why you should use firefox [n/a]

First of all, you shouldn’t be using internet explorer. I hope you know why. IE was vulnerable for 284 days in 2006 alone, compared to Firefox which was vulnerable for 9 days. By using IE you’re exposing yourself to all sorts of vulnerabilities, including adware, spyware, and viruses, simply by browsing unsafe sites. Most of the sites you go to may be safe, but even large sites like myspace had adware bugs last year. In addition, there are tons of sites out there that infect your computer when you just type the wrong URL, such as googkle.com (link goes to security warning, not googkle.com).

Now, if you’re on a mac, you may complain that firefox is too much of a hog, it’s too slow for you. And I’d agree with you. Use Safari, or Opera, or something, just not IE.

Now that I’m at a job with a PC again, I’ve been discovering the joys of firefox. I love the live bookmark feeds–I’m subscribed to digg, fark, slashdot, make zine, woot, nytimes, the onion, and craigslist. I use a bookmarks’ full titles add-on that shows me wider (more) titles per feed, albeit still not all of them.

I also enjoy using firebug, a javascript debugger, though I disabled it when the version I used conflicted with digg commenting.

Finally, I just discovered adblock, an extension that lets me simply right click on any image and block it forever, or even any image from the source site. Goodbye horrible shaking, flashing ads! Blocking flash ads is a little harder, but you can hit control-shift-F to disable all flash on a page, and control-shift-A to list all blockable elements on a page, including the flash ads that you hate.

I’ve been waiting for a feature like this for a long time. Finally it’s here! That plus yahoo mail beta may convert me to using Firefox even on the mac.

Additional Tip

One thing I miss from the mac is the ability to retain sessions even when all windows are closed. On macs, you can close all windows and the application will remain open, meaning in the case of browsers, you can close all windows and then still open a new one, go to yahoo mail again, and still be logged in.

My solution is to always keep a firefox window open on my least used desktop, desktop 4, using the wonderfully awesome and free Virtual Dimension desktop manager. As long as the window remains open on desktop 4, desktops 1-3 can have all their firefox windows closed and I’ll still keep my multiple mail sessions.

Virtual Dimension deserves its own article, but I’ll briefly mention how it’s improved my life–you can configure hotkeys to switch between desktops, and have unlimited desktops, with a different wallpaper on each one. It’s multi monitor compatible, and combined with ultramon, a commercial app I use that extends the taskbar onto a second monitor, I can easily switch applications from desktop to desktop or monitor to monitor, and switch between them easily. I have desktop 1 devoted to work – eclipse on monitor 1, SQLyog on monitor 2; desktop 2 devoted to email and music – outlook on monitor 1, itunes on monitor 2; virtualization and remote desktops to desktop 3 – timbuktu to my mac on monitor 1 and VMware and Ubuntu on fullscreen on monitor 2; and procrastination and websurfing on desktop 4 – the always open browser to retain my sessions, additional web email, digg, etc.

Now I’m working on getting drempels, my favorite free visualization app, to work on multiple monitors.

remove broken song links in iTunes

So someone asks you to play some music, and you click on the perfect itunes songs and iTunes says it can’t find the file. It helpfully puts a little exclamation point next to the mp3 and tells you it can’t find the file, but then doesn’t let you do anything else with it. Do you want to search for it? No. You want it to play music. You don’t want to ‘consolidate library’ because you like where your mp3s are and you don’t want apple managing everything you do. You can’t click on the exclamation point column to sort by ghost links, and you can’t find them all and delete them. What do you do?

For mac, you use Super Find Dead Tracks. It’s an applescript that gets rid of those exclamation point files. You put it in home > library > iTunes > Scripts . If Scripts doesn’t exist you create it. Then it appears as a menu item in a new script icon folder:

Super Remove Dead Tracks Menu Item

Then you wait a little bit and it gives you a dialog when it’s finished. Then you give the guy money or link to him on your blog (thanks dude).

If you’re on PC, you use Itunes Library Updater 2.0.

How I found this / Realized it was a Problem
First I talked to Maeve (my g/f) if she knew the best way to do this. She thought about it and would consolidate her library manually by searching for mp3s, dragging them to the itunes folder, deleting the library and rebuilding it from scratch. This is not a bad idea, it’s taking control of your library and not leaving it up to apple to organize your music. That way you know what you have and if you’ve missed any mp3s. I just wondered if this was a slower way to do it; looking online later people have said having apple reimport all your music can take hours.

On a side note, I think Maeve is less lazy than I am–I would have a computer clean my room and navigate me around if it could. She is generally better at organizing files, and rates her music, meaning iTunes is going to reward her for the manual effort she puts into her library. I on the other hand think about iTune’s lack of functionality, and think “this is stupid” and “there has to be a way to do this.” Generally speaking with computers, if you think these things, chances are you’re right, lots of people think this and have come up with ways of fixing it. It’s a competitive market, so if there’s something the program is really lacking, chances are the competing software does what you’re thinking of and you may be using the wrong program.
Anyway, first I googled “itunes consolidate library not found” (without quotes), which are two literal phrases from itunes error messages. I didn’t know what to call this concept (broken links? ghost files? empty references?) so I tried using language found in the errors and features itunes gives you: the menu item “Advanced > Consolidate Library”, and “The Original Song File Could Not Be Found.” My attempt was to tell google I’m looking for an advanced feature of iTunes relating to organizing my library (like “consolidate library”) but that I’m having a problem “not found”. With this phrase, I found a document called “iTunes Problems (Quarter Life Crisis).” This article wasn’t too helpful and neither were my search engine results pages, but on that page I did find someone who referred to these items in my problem as “lost links”. I tried a new google search for “itunes broken links” thinking I’d get better results. I did, the first link was a digg article that linked to a PC app that addressed the problem.

Being on a mac, I wasn’t done yet, though I have a PC so that app will be helpful in the future. The digg comments and the article mention apple scripts that can do the same thing, but don’t link to it. So on the mac I know there’s an apple script out there that will fix this. Going back to the same search engine results page (SERP) I click on the second link which describes my problem. This person calls the broken files “ghosts”. Addendum–for some reason experts exchange now is hiding the solution from me and trying to charge me to view it–but when I went to this page before, I saw the solution and found two scripts pages that both had very helpful looking itunes scripts, one of which had the super find dead tracks app I needed.
Why am I explaining what I googled? While lots of people have already figured this out, and it doesn’t take a genius to know how to use google, I do see people not knowing how to use google well. They’ll ask me computer questions that they could easily google the answer for. This is an explanation of how to do it in a more general sense. I’m also interested in the problem solving process and what it can teach us about solving other problems. I think if we had more people writing about their problems, describing how they thought about them, posting the solutions, and tagging their solution with other keywords people could use to find them, we could evolve and learn faster as a group than we can by ourselves with the whole ‘figure it out for yourself’ mentality. Anyone want to comment or join in? If you have a problem you’d like to write about solving please email me at jordan at designtion.com.

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