Tech Tips with Mr. Tech Savvy

Thursday, May 29, 2008

POP is good. IMAP is better.

Many business users already know what POP is and use it at their offices. For others who don’t, POP is a method that let users download emails on the server to their computer. In practical understanding, it allows you to download those emails on your Yahoo or Gmail account, or your own domain name emails, into your email applications like Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird, on your computer.

And why would you want to do that? Because you can read them while you are not connected to the internet. Getting the picture? This will also allow you store the emails “locally” on your computer which is a nice way to keep a backup of your precious emails.

So that’s POP. But what if you are a Super Multiple-Gadget user? You probably have a PC at home, another at the office, a laptop while you travel and a trendy mobile phone with you all the time. And you love checking mails, so, you check them all day on all devices.

POP will not help you much in this case. The downside of POP is that it is a one-way communication. With POP you only download emails from the server and that’s it. The server is not told if you have read the emails, replied to them, or even sent a new email. When you shift from your first gadget to the second your emails get downloaded again, and since the server doesn’t know about your previous actions, it will show nothing but new “unread” emails to you. Even more, your replied message is not available since you sent it from your first device.

How to get it all organized? How to make every action you do with your emails be common in all your devices? Here’s where IMAP comes in.

IMAP is an alternative method to “access” your emails from the mail server. Instead of downloading emails, you synchronize them. When you read an email, it tells the server that this mail has been read. And when you send an email, the same email gets “uploaded” and stored in the server as well.

Now when you use any other device, if you check emails using IMAP, you get the emails with their read or unread status. Your sent emails will be downloaded to your local “Outbox”. Even better, if you have organized your emails into folders, all folders will be automatically created and updated in all your devices. Way to go, IMAP!

However, all that glitters is not gold. IMAP does have a small downside. The storage space for your emails depends on your mailbox size allowed by the service provider. If you are a heavy email user with a mailbox limited to 100MB size, then you will have to delete emails every few weeks or so. This, therefore, will not let you keep an archive of your emails on the server.


POP vs IMAP

Now, all the POP fans out there may wonder, “Should I make the shift?” Well, it’s really your personal preference. If you are a single-computer user then you may want to stick to POP as it already suits the purpose. But if you are the Super Multiple-Gadget user, then this suggests you switch right away. It will help you get organized in a very big way.

Note that when you move to IMAP, do so on all computers and devices and stop using POP. Using both will get it all muddled up.

Update: Gmail Fans, here is a recommended reading for you posted by Gmail guys themselves!

Have questions? Email them in!

Just for Geeks - Answer and Win!
In a web address like: http://www.mrtechsavvy.com, what does “http”, “www” and “com” stand for?

Have the answers? Hurry! Send them in! Earliest two entries win a stylish Apacer 1GB USB Flash Drive each!
* For Pattaya Mail and Chiangmai Mail readers only

Till Then... Tata ;-)

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Why laptop when you have a flash drive?

Did you wish you had a laptop so you can have all your work anytime, anywhere? I think it's a bad idea carrying that heavy device with you when you travel. Why take the pains when you can now carry almost everything on a little device called "flash drive"?

Whatever you call it, a handy drive, a pen drive, a thumb drive or a flash drive, such a gadget was invented to give us mobility and portability of data. A flash drive (let's stick to this name) has become a basic gadget for people who use multiple computers and of course for avid travellers. And the good part, as the storage capacity increases, the prices are dropping. As a 1GB flash drive is now at stock-clearance price, a 4GB is a must-have carry-around gadget. Most people use flash drives just for storing or transferring of work files, pictures, music, videos, etc. Little did they know that this little flashy device you carry around has a lot more capabilities than you ever imagined.

One of the most amazing capabilities a flash drive can do that I recommend you to explore is that you can now carry your essential applications with you wherever you go. And by essential applications I mean, all office applications like word processors and its crew, email applications, web browser, instant messengers, anti-viruses and even more. Once these applications are installed into your flash drive, never worry about having to find a computer with the software you need again.

Is it really possible to install entire software into that little device? Well, the question is an under-estimation of flash drives. Not only can you install just software, but also an operating system into that tiny gadget you hooked to your key ring!

So how does it work? Just download the standalone application and install it into your flash drive. When you are on the go, plug your flash drive into any Windows computer and just launch the applications you want to use. Yes, it’s that simple!

Here are a few essential applications you could start with:

Open Office Portable allows you to have your office life on the go. This install includes all office applications like word processor, spreadsheet, etc.

Portable Firefox, the admirable browser, comes to you in a portable version as well. All bookmarks that you saved are stored securely on the flash drive.

Portable Thunderbird is an email application that lets you carry your emails wherever you go. Send and receive emails from this application, running on your flash drive.

Pidgin Portable will never let you lose touch with your friends again. With this multi-network instant messenger, carry your buddy list with you and log on to your MSN, ICQ, Yahoo! or Google accounts when you want to chat with them.

GIMP Portable lets you edit your photos and images the same way you edit them on Adobe Photoshop. This is a credible image editing tool that you must consider giving a try.

These are just a few. All these applications are easily available for you to download at PortableApps (http://www.portableapps.com/), a website that specialises in providing you with a list of recommended portable applications. So start downloading and install it into your flash drives.

Having a second thought about your laptop now? Leave it behind! Go enjoy your vacation!.

Just for Geeks - Site of the Week


Musicovery
www.musicovery.com

Music lovers will enjoy this. Listen to non-stop music while you define the genres, mood, tempo, year of release, etc. to your heart’s content. Even better, mark your favourite songs and ban the ones you hate.


Till next week… Tata ;-)

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Control your music from taskbar

Most of us enjoy listening to music while working on the computer. We would select songs into a playlist and let it play while we carry on with our work. This week features a small and simple tip but a sensible technique to help you control music faster and easier.

Normally, while you are listening to music, when you need to skip a song, you would have to switch back to the media player window and press the ‘Next’ button. Even in a situation when , say, your phone rings and you need to lower the volume or mute it completely to answer the call, you would have go back to the player again. Plus, don’t you think having a maximized window of a media player opened on your screen is a mere clutter of your workspace? Let’s make our tech life easier. Put that media player on your teeny taskbar at the bottom of your screen.

Most Media Players come with an inbuilt feature that allows you to minimize the player’s controls to fit into the taskbar on your Windows computer. Isn’t that neat? With this you can play, pause, stop, go to next or previous song, control the volume or even mute it. And if you want to watch a video as well, Windows Media Taskbar puts a little screen on your taskbar for you to enjoy. As long as it is on your taskbar, you don’t have to switch back and forth between programs again!

This feature may already be enabled on your player, but if you haven’t seen it, here’s how to activate it on Windows Media Player and Apple iTunes in three easy steps:

  • 1) Right-click mouse on the taskbar.
  • 2) Click on Toolbars. Then click on Windows Media Player or iTunes
  • 3) Whenever you want you put your player on the taskbar, just minimize the player and it will automatically be embedded into the taskbar.
There you go, easy and neat!

Happy Songkran to one and all!

It’s awfully hot out there, yet the only way to diminish the heat is to go out this weekend. While some of you might have already enjoyed the thrilling water festival in Bangkok and elsewhere, for the people in Pattaya, this weekend is your turn. Here’s wishing you a Happy Songkran! (Hoping that you read this before the newspaper in your hand turns completely wet!)

All hell breaks loose in this showery festival, so, here’s a little advice: Do remember to keep all your electronics and gadgets, especially mobile phones and digital cameras in a sealed waterproof bag, if you decide to carry them with you. Now go get drenched!

Just for Geeks – Answer and Win!

In the midst of confusion of whether Yahoo! would be taken over by Microsoft or not, did you ever wonder what Yahoo! stands for?

If you have an answer to that let me know and you will get a chance to win a Carvery for two at Jameson's The Irish Pub.
* For Pattaya Mail and Chiangmai Mail readers only


Till next week… Tata ;-)

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Friday, April 11, 2008

The Battle of Browsers

Do you remember Netscape Navigator and how it used to look on our old "boxed" computer screen? That same “navigator” was the first commercial internet browser introduced in 1994. It started off very well, being the dominant browser with up to 90% of users worldwide. The only competitor that Netscape had to battle with at the time was Microsoft's one and only Internet Explorer. Referred to as the First Browser War, It was a beginning of a ruthless competition. And eventually, the year 1998 gave way to Netscape's defeat with IE souring to over a 90% monopolizing share of internet surfers. It was evident that IE enjoyed a sweet symphony of being the leader in the browser war from then.

At that point of time, it was obvious to say that if you have browsed the internet, then you have used Internet Explorer at least once in a lifetime. Or if you are a Windows user, you are sure to have used it and probably are a big fan too.

During subsequent years, there came along a lot of new names and brands with new features and designs. But the one that we have surely heard of and which has really shown success is Mozilla Firefox. With newcomers becoming more and more popular, it brought us to an era of a Second Browser War. By this time, we've barely heard of the name "Netscape". After a long struggle with its competitors, Netscape's doubtful existence officially died a cold death on March 1, 2008.

Let's look at the top three warriors that are battling it out in today’s war.

Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer still leads in the browser race today. Including all versions, IE holds an over 50% user share. Its popularity significantly owes to the fact that Windows operating systems comes pre-installed with IE. While over 85% of the people around the world use Microsoft Windows operating systems, it is no doubt that majority of internet surfers are attached to IE. However, recently, as numerous others have proven this war to be a tough one, IE has been struggling to maintain its superiority. Introduced with the public release of IE7 in 2006 were features like tabbed browsing, phishing filter and search tool. It might have proved a little success but by this time, these were no longer exclusive features. The competitors would have emerged with the same and even more features to offer their users. IE7, therefore, did not succeed as expected. Nevertheless, Microsoft announced its beta release of IE8 recently, which we eagerly wait to see some great enhancements.

Firefox
The closest competition to IE today is Firefox, and to be exact, according to W3Schools.com, the percentage of Firefox users is now above 35%, which has never stopped growing since its first release. Standing in the second position, Firefox is an open source browser developed by Mozilla and supports Windows, Macintosh and Linux. Firefox has certain highlights that definitely please its users. These include features that allow users to add extensions or change the browser’s interface by applying downloadable skins. Moreover, being an open-source platform, independent software developers can create extensions on their own to tune up the browser in the way they want and share them with Firefox fans around the world. This creates a strong community of users who will always try to improve the browser. While the testing version is already out, Firefox is giving finishing touches to its new 3.0 version.

Safari
An official browser by Apple, Safari is one of the youngest entries into this war. Having only about 2% users in hand, Safari has a long way to go to get closer to IE and Firefox. However, its growth rate is believed to be very interesting. The infamous iPhone and iPod Touch that have taken the world by storm come with Safari as the default browser. With more such gadgets being sold, the popularity of this browser is inevitably boosted. Just recently, Apple released its latest Safari update for Windows, the 3.1 version, claiming it to be the fastest browser. With this, Apple does hope to widen its market on the Windows platform.

The world has already bid farewell to one of the major warriors of this war, while there are still stronger ones working extremely hard to dominate this battle. As the technology devotees pursue the fate of this war, common users enjoy the result of new and better products. The war has a lot more coming its way for us to expect the unexpected. We shall wait and watch.

Just for Geeks - Site of the Week


TripIt
www.tripit.com

This is one website travellers must not miss. TripIt is a unique, free online tool for travellers to organize all their travel plans in one place. To start with, all you have to do is forward your travel itineraries to a given email address and they will all be organized for you. The tool will put your flight, hotel and car rental confirmations on one page which can be easily accessible anytime on the website or even through email. You can print these itineraries while you are travelling or even share these travel plans with your friends.


Till next week… Tata ;-)

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Friday, April 4, 2008

Living Life Online

It has been too long since we remember the time we created our first email account, leave alone learning how to connect with a Dial-up connection. Since then, we’ve come a long way. Today, the moment we sit at a computer, there's a least chance we're not connected.

Thanks to the rapid growth in technology, the internet speed is becoming closer to the speed of light day by day. With this effect, the line between "offline" and "online" rapidly thins down, making the majority of our lives "online".

Sure, everything is going online. Our childhood videos, our graduation pictures, our personal diary, we’ve already posted them there. We explore the entire planet's surface from the same screen we check our emails. And what about those essential tasks you do every day when you are offline?

Like Microsoft Word, Excel or Power Point, these basic applications that you use every day in your offices or at home can be found in plenty online. And most of them are free! Yes, it's true. You have most features and functionality just as you had it with those offline applications. Additionally, we can share documents, photos, audios and videos with friends to view and enjoy or collaborate with co-workers to edit and approve. This wasn't possible in offline mode. And Hey! Don’t forget, it’s free! No more buying and installing those expensive softwares.

Another practical use of these online applications is that it is an anytime-anywhere tool. Tired of carrying your laptops with your favourite software when you travel? As long as you can find a nice cyber cafe, you don’t need to worry about those softwares ever.

How does that sound? Here’s a list of online alternatives to your favourite softwares you should fall in love with. Enjoy!



Microsoft Office

Google Docs - http://docs.google.com
Write documents online with this amazing word processing tool. The best part with Google Docs is you can store documents online and access them to view or edit anytime from anywhere. You can also share with a friend and allow him/her to edit the same document.

Microsoft Excel

Google Docs (Spreadsheet) - http://docs.google.com
Accounting is made easier and mobile for you; create spreadsheets with this tool.

Microsoft Power Point

Google Docs (Presentation) - http://docs.google.com
Create presentations, share with people or invite them to watch it at the same time. All this online!

Equally as good, you might also want to take a look Preezo - http://www.preezo.com/

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop Express - https://www.photoshop.com/express
Very recently launched (in beta mode), a free web-based photo editing tool.

Another option is
Splash Up
- http://www.splashup.com

Microsoft Outlook

Gmail - http://www.gmail.com
You can download emails from other accounts to Gmail via POP just like any offline email applications.

Instant Messengers:
MSN, Yahoo!, Gtalk, ICQ and AIM

Meebo - http://www.meebo.com
An all-in-one instant messaging tool; login to any of your chat services right from one location.

Adobe Acrobat Professional

Doc2PDF - http://www.doc2pdf.net/converter
Nothing can be easier than this! Use this to convert a Word document into PDF format. Very quick and easy.

Calculator

InstaCal - http://www.instacalc.com/
Calculation of complex mathematics or conversion of currency, weight, length, etc. can all be done here.




Just for Geeks
Bring family closer; build a family tree, create timelines and share photos with Geni – www.geni.com

Till next week… Tata ;-)

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Friday, March 28, 2008

We love our computer, let's keep it clean

Let's be honest, we are the laziest when it comes to computer maintenance. We know how to copy, download, transfer and install files and programs on our computer so much that it half turns into a box of junk. When the computer is overloaded with unwanted or never-used files, the question is, "Who's going to clean that up?" Of course not the computer!

Keeping your computer clean is the first step to making it run faster. A computer can only run smoothly if we maintain and do clean-ups regularly. There are a big bunch of files sitting in your computer that were temporarily generated, copied or downloaded onto your computer, especially when you surf online. These files help in loading visited web pages or opened program files faster. After a few days, most of them do not have much use and can be removed from your computer safely to re-gain free space.

Here's the simplest way to get rid of that old junk on your computer. Trust me; it's really quick and easy. Many of you may already know this, but let's face it, when was the last time you did a disk cleanup?

Let's go…
  • Go to Start>Programs>Accessories>System Tools and open the Disk Cleanup utility program.
  • You will be prompted to "Select Drive" for clean up. Being the most crucial one, let's start our clean up with C Drive. Select the drive from the list and click OK.



  • The program will scan and analyze "junk" files which can be removed from your computer to clean up space. This can take awhile depending on the temporary files on your computer.
  • Once the scanning is done, you will get a list of file types that can be deleted. By default, some of them will already be selected. Apart from those, you might want to select "Recycle Bin" as well, if you decide to clean up that too. Another one you should choose to clean up is "Temporary Files". Click OK and when you are asked to confirm the clean up, click Yes.
  • The cleanup utility will take awhile to do the work for you.
  • Repeat the steps if you want to clean up other drives as well.
Told you it was easy! Make this a regular practice, at least once a week and you will stop thinking about buying a new computer.

Just for Geeks - Answer and Win!
According to InternetWorldStats.com, about 20% of the world’s population is using the internet today. While the world’s population is 6,606,971,659*, there are currently 1,319,872,109* internet users around the world.

* Estimated values

The answer to last week's Just For Geeks – Answer and Win! question "What does "http", "www" and "com" stand for in a web address?" is:

http stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol
www stands for World Wide Web (of course!)
com stands for Commercial

Wasn’t that easy? Once again we had a lot of entries coming in. The lucky winners to take away Apacer 1GB USB Flash Drive each are Pete Eades and Russ Blohn. Congratulations!

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Five Reasons why Gmail stands among them all

Gmail has become a part of our lives. A big one for many. And for those who don’t have an account yet, here’s what you are missing:

  • Space. Lots of space.
    6497 MB available to you as of today, and counting! This is as close as it gets to having unlimited space. Ask your friend to send you emails with attachments of 10 MB a day and it would still take him 2 years to fill up your mailbox. My own Gmail mailbox has over 2500 emails and yet it never crossed the 5% mark. Gmail is very generous at this feature so why not take advantage of this? Never delete emails again. Use this as your email backup. Or how about using Gmail as your virtual 6.5GB Flash Drive?

  • POP? Free. IMAP? Yes, Free.
    The feature we always wished for with free web-based email is to be able to download emails to your emailing software on your computer like MS Outlook. Gmail lets you do just that with POP download feature. The best part, its Free!

    The same for IMAP. Don’t download but sync your emails on your computer, laptop or even your mobile phone through the IMAP feature. Every action is automatically synchronized with all your devices. Mobile users can check their mail by pointing their browser to http://m.gmail.com

    There’s more. You can even download emails from other accounts that you have POP access to Gmail mailbox. This allows you to check multiple email accounts from one location.

  • Speed
    With the standard version of Gmail, it’s almost as quick to check your mails as you were doing with the email software on your computer. The web-based email is fast and highly responsive. Try your hand at it and find out if it’s fast enough for you.

  • Kick spam in the face
    Spam and junk mails are the annoying part of our communication life. Get rid of it. Gmail is very effective when it comes to blocking unwanted messages. To my experience, Gmail leads at this feature. It can never be a 100% clean mailbox, but for Gmail, 99% is possible.
  • Forgot that mail? Search it!
    We love Google and we know it’s the best search engine on the planet. Use the same technology to search your email. Looking for an email sent to you 2 years ago? Remember what it was about, put in those keywords, and let Gmail search feature find it in a flash!
Other features that will help make your communication life better may include archiving emails, auto-saving into Drafts as you compose a new mail, chatting with your contacts from the mailbox itself, really “Quick Contacts”, displaying emails of same context in a group or “conversations”, and countless more… Judge it yourself and let us know what you think about it.


Just for Geeks
Why not backpack your ideas, to-do lists, notes, clippings, photos and have them on the go? Check out this really cool organizer tool - www.backpackit.com.

Till Then... Tata ;-)

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