Microsoft Office Labs Offering Free Tools to Increase Your Productivity

Microsoft Office Labs Offering Free Tools to Increase Your ProductivityHave you ever sent an email and forgotten to include the attachment? Almost every one of us has at one time or another. Over at Microsoft Office Labs there’s a tool under development that could assist in making sure the attachment goes with the email. The tool is called Forgotten Attachment Detector (FAD) and will alert you with a message stating ‘You may have intended to attach something’ and confirms if you wish to continue sending the email or not. System requirements are Windows XP or above, Outlook 2007, Net 3.5 SP1, and VSTO 3.0.

Another free tool from Microsoft Labs is called Sticky Sorter. This add-on allows for the brainstorming of ideas onto virtual sticky notes, and can be used in collaboration with others of your choosing. The sticky notes can be color coordinated, arranged by the user, and even categorized. The program is simple to use and only requires Microsoft Windows XP or above, plus Network 2.0 to function.

Do you need a faster way to launch stuff you require immediately? Give Speed Launch a try. The free program adds a bull’s eye to your desktop in which you can drag any document, file, or any Web site URL onto the target. Once in the bull’s eye, anything can be opened by just clicking on it. The program requires Windows XP or above and .NET Framework 3.0.

In addition to the above programs, Microsoft Labs is offering what it calls Concept Tests. These experimental programs are designed to let the user take a free test ride and experience (and offer feedback about) future concepts that may or may not make it into a Microsoft product. Some of the products are designed just to entertain a user, while some of the other concept programs are designed to actually increase productivity.

I would recommend that you these free tools and see what you think.

Microsoft Office Labs can be found here.

Comments welcome.

It’s Google, Squared

There should be an image here!I played around with Google Squared for a bit today. Seems to be best suited for things that can be compared side by side. Ingredients, famous people, reasons to bother using Google Squared, etc. Overall, it was not as excited as I had initially anticipated.

Perhaps one of the best uses for such a thing, would be in comparing cars, housing prices or something else relevant to everyday life. So on the plus side, this is a strong area for the Google Labs project.

Sadly though, this is really little more than a basic fact checker with a cool new “Ajaxy” layout to play with. So while it might be of benefit to some of you, I suspect that most of you, as with myself, will give this latest project a pass.

Hulu Desktop – Do We Really Want This?

First of all, I think Hulu is an awesome supplement for video content assuming you happen to be an American or UK viewer. Outside of that, if you are watching it, you’re using a proxy. But content and availability aside, I find myself questioning the value of something that recently rolled out of Hulu labs.

It’s called Hulu Desktop, it is basically the same thing as full screening your Hulu experience in the browser, with a few extra options. And to be honest, it is pretty cool. It’s just unfortunate that they choose to make it something that is only available for folks who wish to install the software.

Yes, I feel that this is the kind of experience we should be able to enjoy in browser. Why would I want to instead, install yet another program to take up space on my hard drive? I mean, this is not even available to users on mobile platforms, much less Linux.

Frankly this bores me. Want to impress me, Hulu? Bring your service over to my Roku box. The HDMI cable is already hooked up. Hulu works well on my TV via VGA as it is thanks to my notebook, let’s stop duplicating tired experiences and concentrate on getting Hulu onto the TV. Well, assuming you media overlords allow you to do so, of course.

Loving the labs idea, just wish to see something truly NEW rather than more ways to simply watch your content on my PC. We’ve already experienced this. So, next!

Google Toolbar Labs – Ready To Try

Google has announced on their blog site that Google Toolbar Labs is ready for you to try. The folks at Google state that they have made ready features that consumers have mentioned they want to be incorporated into the Google Toolbar. Some of what Google offers include:

Back in September, the Mobile team launched Mobile Search with My Location. Looking at this, we wanted to figure our how we could bring the same convenience of typing fewer words to computer users. With Toolbar with My Location, both Google Maps and the included Maps gadget automatically center on your current location. Similarly, you can just do a search like [thai food], and you will receive a list of nearby restaurants and more local Google search results. This feature is similar to IP-based local search results announced earlier this month, except Google Toolbar with My Location can determine a more accurate location by using nearby Wi-Fi access points. This is done without associating location information with a user’s Google Account. Google Toolbar with My Location is only available in the U.S.

There is also a new Chinese toolbar available as well. Google also says that some of the features of the Google Toolbar Labs may not make the cut when the final versions is released. Google is looking for your feedback so give it go if you are a Google Toolbar fan.

Comments welcome.


College Computer Labs May Be Heading For Extinction

In an interesting twist, some colleges may be dumping their computer labs. It seems that since so many new college students are coming to school with their own laptops, that the traditional computer labs may become extinct. In one survey at the University of Virginia only 4 freshman students showed up without a laptop. In this economic downturn, and with colleges trying to tighten their belts, will computer labs go the way of the dodo?

According to an article at ARS it states the following information:

What’s the point of running a university computer lab when all the students bring laptops anyway? That’s a question that schools have been asking themselves as computer ownership rates among incoming freshmen routinely top 90 percent. Schools like the University of Virginia have concluded that the time has come to dismantle the community computer labs and put that money to more productive uses.

According to the school’s Information Technology & Communication department, 3,117 freshmen enrolled in 2007, and 3,113 of them owned their own computer. Nearly all of the machines were laptops, with 72 percent running Windows and 26 percent running Mac OS X (six hardy souls ran Linux).

Compared to a decade ago, the increase in student computing hardware is little short of amazing. In 1997, 74 percent of incoming freshmen owned computers, but only 16 percent of these machines were laptops. The Windows chokehold on operating systems looked complete, appearing on 93.4 percent of all machines and leaving only 6.6 percent for the Mac.  

But what about colleges where the students can’t afford to buy a new lappy? What are they going do? Is closing down computer labs a good choice in these circumstances?

Comments welcome.


March 13, 2009 – Virus Set To Call Home To Southwest Ailrines

According to a blog entry at Sophos, if you are scheduled for a flight on Southwest Airlines on March 13th, you may have trouble logging in online. It seems that the virus known as Confickeris scheduled to call home to for further instructions. But the virus won’t receive any directions. Instead the site which is owned by Southwest Airlines will redirect the traffic to Southwest Airlines. If this happens, than the site could suffer a denial of service attack.

According to Sophos in their blog posting, it also states that:

The key sites whose visitors may indeed see a disruption to their service include:

jogli.comBig Web Great MusicMarch 8
wnsux.comSouthwest AirlinesMarch 13
qhflh.comWomen’s Net in Qinghai ProvinceMarch 18
praat.orgPraat: doing phonetics by computerMarch 31

Other, less frequented, sites of interest that appeared in the list include “The Tennesse Dogue De Bordeaux” dog breeders site (, March 14) and the coy “Double Super Secret Message Board” site (, March 11) — dogs and secrets won’t be moving too well on those days. One last domain turned out to be infected with Troj/Unif-B (site not listed here for obvious reasons) — so I will go ahead and block that one all the same!

As for options, the simple solution, say for Southwest Airlines, could simply be to stop resolving to for the day — so long as that wouldn’t hinder any of their operations. Another option would be to filter out the Conficker HTTP requests of the form http://<domain>/search?q=<N>, though this requires that (a) your site does not currently use a “search” page (with no file extension) and more importantly (b) the filtering decision is made at a point along the network path that can cope with the load. This is a bit trickier as HTTP is an application layer protocol — a network connection must already be established before the two endpoints start speaking HTTP — necessitating a highly provisioned web proxy be used on the front lines to (1) establish the connection (TCP 3-way handshake), (2) examine the HTTP request, and (3) drop Conficker requests and pass along any remaining (presumably legitimate) requests further downstream. In any case, I have contacted the owners of the domains listed above to draw their attention to this matter.

Time will tell whether making it on the Conficker list will be viewed with prestige or lowliness. Perhaps stories of surviving a Conficker call-home flood will carry a badge-of-honor in the network operations world. I do know one thing for certain though… I’m glad did not make the list.

MikeW, SophosLabs, Canada

So hopefully Southwest Airlines won’t experience any problems.

Comments welcome.


Mozilla Labs Announces Add-On Winners

Over at Mozilla Labs, they have announced what they call the Extend Firefox winners, which list add-ons voted as the best by a team of judges. Some of the add-ons are still under development but as Mozilla Labs states are still powerful news tools for Firefox 3 users to take advantage of. Some of the new prize winners include:

Pencil by Dương Thành An

GUI prototyping and diagramming that everyone can use.

The Pencil Project’s unique mission is to extend Firefox 3 to an opensource tool for making diagrams and GUI prototyping that everyone can use. Pencil makes uses of the SVG support in Firefox 3 to implement all the shape rendering and scripting.

Tagmarks by Felipe Tassario Gomes

One click bookmark tagging

This add-ons adds a set of icons to the quick bookmarks, allowing you to quickly add tags to your bookmarks by clicking on each icon.

HandyTag by Rémi Szymkowiak

Automatic bookmark tagging

HandyTag simply providing a complete set of most relevant keywords in the bookmark’s edition panel. These keywords are retrieved from many different sources.

There are many other award winning add-ons that came in as runner up, but also may be useful to you. May I recommend you take a look  at the Mozilla Lab web site for additional information. There appears to be something for everyone.

Mozilla Labs.

Google Gmail 20% Time Evolution – New Toys To Play With!

Yesterday, June 5, 2008, Google began offering new features for Gmail users available with just a few mouse clicks. Some of the new features are:

* a module for quick links (saved searches, important messages)
* superstars (additional star icons)
* pictures in Gmail chat
* fixed width font
* custom keyboard shortcuts
* mouse gestures
* random signature
* signature tweaks (places the signature before the quoted text)
* custom date format
* muzzle (hide the status of your contacts in Gmail chat)
* play Snake inside Gmail
* email addict (blocks the screen for 15 minutes)
* hide unread count

What is the 20% that Google talks about?

“The 20 percent time is a well-known part of our philosophy here, enabling engineers to spend one day a week working on projects that aren’t necessarily in our job descriptions. You can use the time to develop something new, or if you see something that’s broken, you can use the time to fix it.”

Google’s engineers may work on many side-projects related to Gmail and this could be an opportunity for users to try them, send feedback or influence which features should be further developed and added to Gmail. It’s not clear if that’s the right interpretation for Google’s intentionally-ambiguous text, but we’ll find out next Thursday.

So how does one access these new features? Simple. On your Google Gmail account site, just click on  Settings and at the next screen click on Tabs. You can enable or disable the new features as you like. Give them a try and see what you think.


MonaRonaDona – A Virus That Sells You Fake Software

MonaRonaDona virus is making its presence known on the Internet and packs a feature that actually wants to sell you fake software. The writers of the software have come up with a message that states:

“Hi, My name is MonaRonaDona. I am a Virus & I am here to Wreck Your PC. If you observe strange behavior with your PC, like program windows disappearing etc, it’s me who is doing all this. I was created as a protest against the Human Right Violation being observed throughout the world & the very purpose of my existence is to remind & stress the world to respect humanity.”

When a unsuspecting users does a search for the virus, they are sent to fake sites that have articles about how to remove the bug, including some fake software that sells for $39. Yes the virus is than removed. But any good anti-virus software will do the same thing.

Over at Kaspersky they have stated:

Researchers at anti-malware software provider Kaspersky Labs theorize that it may be installed when unsuspecting users looking for a bargain install and run a fake utility program called RegistryCleaner 2008.

Bottom line. Be careful out there in cyberspace. The bad guys are always lurking about.

Comments welcome.

Full story is here.

[tags]monaronadona, virus, fake, software, sell, kaspersky, labs, beware, infection, [/tags]

Free Anti-Virus Program From Kaspersky Labs


Here is another free anti-virus program provided by AOL, which will work with both AOL and non-AOL Windows systems. Called Active Virus Schield, the software comes from Kaspersky Labs who’s products are well known for providing very good anti-virus protection. The software works with all Windows versions from 98 up to and including Vista. The free download and installation is very easy and the program itself is easy to use.

On their website site they describe their software as:

What is Active Virus Shield?

Active Virus Shield is free anti-virus for your PC that combines traditional antivirus programs, stopping them before they can infect your computer.

Active Virus Shield is brought to you as a free service of AOL and is based on Kaspersky Lab’s award winning Personal Anti-Virus:

  • Ranked #2 by Consumer Reports (Sep. ’05)
  • Rated “Excellent” by (2006)
  • Offers updates with more frequency… compared with… other security vendors” – Information Week
  • “No anti-virus vendor launches a fix faster” – Red Herring

Active Virus Shield seamlessly integrates with the Microsoft Windows family of operating systems and is compatible with other PC protection programs (firewalls, anti-spyware, etc.). Like other anti-virus programs, using Active Virus Shield may require that you uninstall other anti-virus programs to avoid product incompatibilities.

So if you are looking for a free anti-virus program, you may wish to consider Active Virus Shield. Also available for free are AVG and Avast which are also highly recommended. You do not need to spend big buck to keep your system bug free. These freeware products provide very good protection and are equal to their commercial counterparts.

If you have tried Active Virus Schield, let us know what you think.

Free copy of Active Virus Shield can be found here.

Comments welcome.

[tags]kaspersky, aol, labs, active virus shield, free, software, [/tags]

Google Labs – Play With Google's Latest Software

Google is always offering new prototypes of software available for the public to try. Some of the software is still in the testing stages and should be considered beta aka test software, so you must use it at your own risk. If you wish to try some of Google’s new products, and do not have a test machine, I’d recommend that you create a Restore Point on your system in case something goes wrong.

Read my article on how to create a restore point here.

Most of the Google products you will find at the link below have already been fairly well tested and hopefully you won’t have any problems. But computers being computers, anything can go wrong. So test these products with care.

I think you will have fun trying some of these latest Google offerings. Enjoy.

Google Labs can be found here.

[tags]Google, labs, software, test, beta[/tags]

Google Does It Again

I rarely find myself all that impressed with Google’s endeavors anymore. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I have a problem with Google specifically really, I just feel like it may have hit a bit of a slump… until I found this.

On the surface, creating a search engine tool would be about as exciting a rolling out your own toolbar. Cool on the first pass, but would grow old without a lot of control turned over to the creator. After looking into Google’s co-op search engine project closely, it would appear that it “gets it” – user control is key.

So how far can Google take this? Based on my use of its examples, this could really take your site search up a notch.

Have comments? Want to share feedback? Email me at [email protected]. Note that, by clicking on that link, the subject defaults to “feedback.” Changing this subject will cause POPFile to quarantine your message and I will never see it – so please don’t!
[tags]google, search engine, co-op, labs[/tags]

It's Like The Weather Channel, But Accurate And Timely!

It has been my experience that you can do some pretty amazing stuff with Flash these days. One example that comes to mind is how people we once used to watch on TV have managed to carve out a name for themselves on the ‘Net by using Flash Video technology. Not only does it make the video cross platform, it’s just easier to access in general.
Continue reading “It's Like The Weather Channel, But Accurate And Timely!”