by Catherine L. Tully
Every now and then I like to write a post on maintaining your writing instrument–the computer. If you want to have it act right, you need to treat it nice.
Here are some tasks that should be done on a regular basis, along with links with some directions, just in case you don’t know how to perform the task:
Defragment your hard drive. Think of this as “housecleaning”.
Back up your computer. If you don’t have a system for this yet, it’s time. All you have to do is have things crash once to make this oh-so-worthwhile.
Back up your e-mails. Didn’t know you had to do this? If you use Outlook, you need to back up what is called a .pst file, otherwise you are not going to have your e-mails if there is a problem. The server will only archive them for so long, so be sure to do this and then burn to a DVD or back up on other media. It won’t automatically back up when you back up the computer, so do this step too.
File e-mails in folders. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but people don’t do it. Keeping up with your e-mail is key when it comes to running a good freelance writing business. Being able to find an e-mail can mean the difference between looking pro and looking slow.
Clean up. Use anti-static wipes to clean your screen and blow out the keyboard with compressed air.
Take out the trash. Empty your recycle bin.
This is a simple guide for PC users. I’m not a Mac, so if anyone cares to leave a tip or two for Mac users, I wouldn’t complain. ; )
by Catherine L. Tully
Recently I went back and forth between a Mac and a PC and finally settled on a Dell XPS (which I love) as my writing machine. Still, the Mac has an appeal for many, and today I’d like to share with you a page from CNET where you can find some great reviews on a few of the Apple laptops that are out there. CNET does product reviews well, so be sure and browse their site any time you are looking to make a big purchase on gear for your office.
Here’s a secret you should know about the iPhone 3G. If you are a travel writer with some international travel coming up, you can spare yourself some nasty surprises on your next AT&T bill by turning off your roaming and deactivating Fetch New Data. That’s the “no duh” part of the advice. What might come as a surprise to some iPhone 3G users (mostly the new ones) is that you can turn your iPhone into the equivalent of an iPod Touch by using Airplane Mode (where no signals are received or sent) AND turning on Wi-Fi.
Step One: Turn on Airplane Mode to render your iPhone incapable of transmission or reception.
Step Two: Once Airplane Mode is on, go into the menu and turn ON Wi-Fi mode. Now you can get signals via wi-fi hotspots AND block incoming calls. It’s not just handy for preventing you from accidentally roaming on the cellular network, it’s also great when you just want to hop on and check your e-mail and do a bit of surfing without being hassled every ten minutes by a ringing phone.
When you’re done with Wi-Fi mode, you can turn it off manually, but deselecting Airplane Mode turns off Wi-Fi automatically when using with this “hack”.
by Joe Wallace
We haven’t test-driven the Incase Power Slider yet, but the potential for this third-party phone case/battery pack is just what the doctor ordered for iPhone addicts at Freelance-Zone. The Incase Power Slider is two things in one–a protective case for the iPhone 3G, plus a battery pack which the marketing hype claims will “more than double” the life of your iPhone battery.
I won’t go so far as to say that all good freelancers should be using the iPhone, since there are Sprint products which rival the iPhone 3G’s ability to stay connected, respond to editors, and keep you in the game no matter where you go. But some of us are Mac addicts, plain and simple. The Incase Power Slider does add a bit of bulk to the phone (based on customer reviews I’ve been poring over) but no more than you might expect from any other third-party addon for the iPhone. One customer review warns of increased heat from the unit when charging, so it seems best to babysit the Incase for the first couple of charges until you know what to expect.
The idea that I can get double the amount of surf and talk time out of my iPhone 3g is pretty tempting. The Incase Power Slider sells for about $80, a worthy investment if the reviews are to be believed. I’m getting one…look for a review in this space soon.
I am not a Mac evangelist, but I do own one and love it MUCH more than my PC machines. I have used this model, the Macbook 13.3 inch and strongly recommend it for any Mac newbie curious about making the switch.
This model, originally a $1300 model on Amazon.com, is currently selling for approx. $1205 at press time. Pricey for a laptop? You can own a $700 Gateway, but for my money, the Macbook is far more reliable and stable. Why spend the extra money? I’ll tell you why I did:
When I was managing editor for the media-intensive web daily Gearwire.com, I went to about five trade shows a year, interviewing musicians and doing video demos of new musical gear such as compressors, mic preamps, recording software, and other great musician toys.
My video crew used Macs non-stop for days. Two Macbooks were used round the clock for three solid days for editing, rendering and exporting video clips. Imagine your PC actively working for 72 hours virutally non-stop. It just wouldn’t happen without at least one freeze, glitch, crash or general PC-related weirdness. With the Mac, those 72 hours were flawless.
You don’t need to be a power user to own one of these Macbooks. In fact, I tell power users to go with the MacBook Pro instead. For most writers, this Apple Macbook 13.3 inch, with its 2.4 GhZ dual processor, 2 gigs of RAM and 160 gigabyte hard drive is more than plenty. This is a durable, long-lasting machine that served this writer well for over a year of abuse (before I left the company to go full-time freelance). I’m a Macbook Pro owner now, and I am preparing to sink large dollars into the top-of-the-line model so I can indulge my music and video side with a variety of projects which require the extra juice, but you can’t go wrong with the model pictured above for writing.
Ready to be “wowed”? PicLens gives you some serious power over the photo search. This program can be downloaded for free and enables you to quickly (and oh so very smoothly) fly through photos on the web at lightspeed. You’ll feel like the coolest person around when you scroll through images, browsing them as fast as you like. The program works with a number of photo sites (such as Flickr and Photobucket), social networking sites (such as MySpace and Facebook) and image searches on Google, Yahoo, Ask, AOL and Live Images. It works on PC or Mac computers, but you’ll need Internet Explorer, Safari or Firefox to use it. Watch the demo on the site to see just how amazing this is–you’ll feel like you’ve been transported into the future….
Do you use WordPress? Go to the site and download a plug in that will enable you to add full-screen slideshow capability to your blog. Is that cool or what?
(And yes–I have a pretty amazing technology source–keep checking in for more….)