Compacting Outlook PST

April 25th, 2005

If you use Microsoft Outlook (here I mean the full product not Outlook Express) you probably delete unwanted emails, attachments and so on. However, what you might not be aware of is that this alone doesn't actually make the main Outlook personal file (called a .PST) any smaller. Over time the .PST file grows and grows. To trim it down you need to go through a process called compacting.

NOTE: Have a backup of your Outlook data before continuing (close Outlook and make a copy of your .PST file).

The easiest way to do this is to right click on "Outlook Today" int he Outlook Bar at the left of the application (or "Personal Folders" in the Folder List) and choose "Properties". Then click on the "Advanced..." button followed by "Compact Now"

A dialog box will appear while the process is being carried out (if you've not done this for a while it might take a long time). After this has completed click "OK" and "OK" again to close.

Outlook will now be faster and take up less system resources and disk space. The Outlook .PST file will now also be easier to back up.

Keeping passwords safe

April 21st, 2005

How many passwords do you have? 1? 5? 10? More? Back in 2003 The Wall Street Journal claimed that the average PC user had at least fifteen usernames and passwords to remember - this has probably changed by now, I certainly have a LOT more! Problem is, how do you store these passwords safely?

The program that I use is PasswordSafe - Originally developed by renowned cryptographer Bruce Schneier so it's a program that you can trust (it's now an open source project). PasswordSafe protects the username, passwords and other data you enter using the Blowfish encryption algorithm, which is both fast and free. You enter a single master password to access PasswordSafe and you can then copy the usernames and passwords you want and when you close the program the password is automatically and securely deleted from the clipboard memory for added security.

There are a lot of utilities out there that do a similar task but this is the one that I trust.

Onfolio 2.0

April 21st, 2005

Do you use the web for research? Do you find it hard to keep track of things that you've found? Do you end up with a bunch of unmanageable links and snippets of text that quickly become disorganized? If so, then maybe you should check out Onfolio 2.0 Professional.

Onfolio is a PC application for reading RSS news feeds, collecting and organizing online content and publishing to email, weblogs and web sites.

I've just received a copy of Onfolio 2.0 for evaluation and I'm impressed with it - in the early stages of using something new I generally take a broad view of applications and utilities. If they crash my system or make it unstable then I uninstall them - I might try to install them again or get back to the company if I was sufficiently impressed by what I saw initially but otherwise I don't bother. If they are stable then I generally pay attention to how often I turn to it and use it - if I use it often then it's obvious that it fills a need, otherwise it doesn't. I'm impressed with Onfolio because it's not made my system unstable and I'm using it - in fact, I'm surprised how much I'm actually using it. I use the web a lot for research and for me having a way to package information in a logical way (into groups that I assign titles to) is a huge timesaver and stops me saving links and snippets on my desktop or in random folders. What I find really useful is the ability to choose between grabbing just the link and capturing the whole page (or, if I want everything, the whole site).

Onfolio Personal Edition is $29.95 while Onfolio Professional is $99.95. Sounds like a lot of money but in the past week or so I think that it's certainly improved my productivity so it gets a thumbs up from me.

Look out for a full review soon ...


April 21st, 2005

Protect your IM conversations with 128-bit encryption (requires that the other people that you are talking to also use IMsecure) and protect yourself from spam and hackers with new IMsecure (from the makers of Zone Alarm personal firewall). IMsecure supports current and future IM clients.

IMsecure is free for individual and not-for-profit charitable entity use (excluding governmental entities and educational institutions). Pro version available for corporate and business use and also provides greater features and protection.
Added: April 21, 2005 @ 19:26 GMT
NOTE: Currently IMsecure doesn't seem to work with Microsoft MSN Messenger 7.0. Hopefully these problems will be solved soon.

The Desktop Sidebar

April 21st, 2005

"Breaking News... Critical Appointments... Personal Photo Gallery... Convenient Toolbars... Favorite Cartoon... Instant Web Searches... Task Tracking... Music Library... Notes to File... Weather in Tokyo... You can have it all and more at your fingertips with Desktop Sidebar!

Desktop Sidebar provides you with instant access to the information you most desire by grabbing data from your PC and the internet. The result is a dynamic visual display you configure and control."

This is a bit of software that I've been using for a few weeks now. In the beginning I was skeptical of it - Kathie had been running it on her system for months and kept telling me how good it was but I just wasn't convinced. It just looked like asking for crashes and instability to me, although Kathie seemed happy. Anyway, I took the plunge and installed it (thinking it would soon be gone), but it isn't - In fact, I think it's really cool! I can't say it's made the system unstable or slower in any way and it's handy to have the weather, system resource monitors, RSS feeds, email and much more all displayed in one place on the desk. It's immensely customizable and comes with a variety of skins that you can choose from and you can pick and chose which plug-ins to have loaded.

A very nice bit of kit that is free from spyware, adware or malware and best of all, Desktop Sidebar is FREEWARE!